IMRF Trustee and Regional Coordinator for South America, Jorge Diena, writes:
In April 2015, during the 90th anniversary celebrations of a Chilean IMRF member organization based in Valparaiso, the need for a mass rescue operations (MRO) seminar in Chile was discussed, due to the number of passenger ships transiting the region and visiting the port. After some initial planning and evaluation the date was set for October 2016. To make it happen many meetings were held with the Chilean Navy, the national emergency response agencies, health organizations and the Governor of the region, and all agreed the importance of such a seminar.
The event was hosted and co-organized by IMRF’s member organization, the Cuerpo de Voluntarios de los Botes Salvavidas de Valparaíso. The Chilean Navy made available its Maritime Instruction Center, CIMAR, which was perfect for the occasion. As well as the Valparaiso maritime rescue volunteers, the participants came from the Chilean Navy (Armada de Chile), the national emergency response agency (ONEMI), the national health service (SAMU), the Red Cross (Cruz Roja de Chile), the Firefighter Corps of Valparaiso (Cuerpo de Bomberos de Valparaíso), and the National Lifeboat Organization (Junta Nacional de Botes Salvavidas). The cruise line shipping agency, Inchcape, the Chilean Police (Carabineros de Chile), the Police Investigation Department (Policia de Investigaciones), and the Container Terminal in Valparaiso (TCVAL) were also represented.
Thomas Gorgol and Joel Morgado, MRO experts from the US Coast Guard, were the key presenters. Joel had had the "good fortune" to have played a leading role in a real MRO in his country last August, and had all the expertise that comes from dealing with such a complex event. As the IMRF’s Regional Coordinator, I introduced the seminar and explained how the IMRF can help share the knowledge brought together by our members and offered in the MRO library on our website, www.imrfmro.org. I was also able to tell the seminar participants what the IMRF is doing in different parts of the world to help prevent the loss of lives.
The Governor and high ranking officers from different law enforcement agencies were present for the opening ceremony and the first presentations, and were impressed by the intricacy of a MRO. All the participating organizations made presentations highlighting their particular roles in the Chilean community and what they thought would be their role if a MRO should be required.
After that, Joel Morgado led a tabletop exercise which made the complexity of a MRO so clear that many participants realized that many of their original plans had to be revisited. Joel’s energy and knowledge were excellent, and the success of the event was crystal clear when we closed the seminar by asking the participants to make their own evaluation of what they had discussed.
Their comments included:
This summarises very well the need for MRO planning – and the value of seminars such as this one in Valparaiso.
||"I thought we had a plan, and now I realize we need a new one..."
||"We need to work together with other agencies..."
||"From now on I will change my attitude..."
||"We need to make a plan that includes and works for all organizations..."
On behalf of the IMRF, my thanks to all involved.