More than two years on from the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic that shook the world, global industries are adapting their operations, processes and structures to a more cautious and regulated environment.

For the search and rescue (SAR) community, the pandemic offered a unique opportunity for SAR organisations to develop their own best practices and structures as they continued to respond to call outs.

In its role as a non-governmental organisation for the improvement of global maritime SAR capabilities, the IMRF produced its ‘Pandemic Response Guidance for Maritime Search and Rescue Organisations’ document to help SAR organisations put these vital structures in place.

‘Pandemic Response Guidance for Maritime Search and Rescue Organisations’ is available for all SAR organisations to use for free. You can access the guidance document here:

The guidance document, produced with the support of Lloyd’s Register Foundation, is designed to be used as a basis for the planning and delivery of maritime SAR services in future pandemics and major health emergencies.

It includes information on mitigation and containment actions, what maritime SAR organisations should prioritise, the training and wellbeing of SAR personnel and guidance for non-operational activities.

The document was developed following initial guidance produced by a working group formed by the IMRF and its members in April 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic began to emerge.

The working group felt that the SAR community had the opportunity to develop a robust framework for SAR organisations to adapt their processes during not only the Covid-19 pandemic but any future global health emergencies.

“As the world begins to adapt to the ‘new normal’, it is important for SAR organisations to remain vigilant. This was not just about getting through the Covid-19 pandemic. This is about ensuring that SAR organisations are adequately prepared for all future health emergencies so that they can adapt their processes and teams to meet any strict regulations that are put in place,” said Theresa Crossley, CEO of the IMRF.

“The IMRF’s Pandemic Guidance document provides a strong basis for SAR organisations to continue providing effective SAR services while mitigating the risks posed by global viruses and pandemics to SAR crews and those that they save.” 

The IMRF’s Pandemic Response Project was also a feature of this year’s G5 Mass Rescue Conference, which took place in June in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Jared Blows from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) addressed participants of the conference about the need to develop robust SAR procedures during major health incidents.

You can watch Jared’s full presentation from G5 here:

The IMRF also held two webinars dedicated to the IMRF’s Covid-19 and Pandemic Response project. The first, which took place in October 2020, provided an opportunity for participants to share their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. Click here to watch it again:

The second webinar, which took place in February 2021, focused on the launch of the IMRF’s Pandemic Response Guidance for Maritime Search and Rescue Organisations’ document, as well as an overview of maritime SAR safety for crews. Click here to watch it again: