Lessons learned from recent international search and rescue operations, including the ongoing search for MH370, were discussed during an East Asia Summit (EAS) seminar in Sydney this week.
Co-chaired by Australia and Thailand, the EAS Rapid Disaster Response: Search and Rescue Lessons Learned Seminar considered the challenges of coordinating search and rescue operations in response to mass-casualty disasters, drawing on the experiences of EAS member states. The seminar focused on search and rescue operations requiring interagency and international coordination and cooperation, particularly those with joint civilian and military contributions.
The Australian Civil-Military Centre (ACMC) hosted the event from 21 to 23 September 2015 as part of its mandate to promote whole-of-government cooperation in response to complex emergencies and interagency lessons learned.
Executive Director of the ACMC, Dr Alan Ryan co-facilitated the event with Emeritus Professor at the University of NSW Professor Carlyle Thayer.
Dr Ryan said the Indo-Pacific region was the most prone to natural disasters in the world.
“In recent years we have witnessed large-scale disasters including the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Typhoon Haiyan. We have also seen tragic events like the loss of MH370,” he said.
“Sharing good practices and lessons learned by East Asia Summit members will help us prepare for future disaster events, and strengthen regional cooperation and capacities.”
The EAS is a forum for dialogue and cooperation on complex regional and strategic issues which recognises the importance of enhancing cooperation in mass casualty disasters. The seminar considered current international and regional architecture related to search and rescue operations and disaster management in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as suggestions for enhancing effective cooperation and coordination.
Keynote speakers included the leader of Australia’s search efforts for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d); and the head of Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency, Air Marshal Bambang Soelistyo, who led the recovery of Air Asia QZ 8501. Senior speakers from Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines presented case studies on their experiences in leading search and rescue efforts after the 2004 tsunami and Typhoon Haiyan.
The seminar drew on the extensive experiences of EAS member states in discussing the efficacy of existing international standards, protocols, and mechanisms with a view to identifying opportunities to further improve future regional search and rescue coordination in the Indo-Pacific region.