USAR Capacity Building

Urban Search and Rescue Capacity Building

​SDC has been engaged in disaster risk reduction efforts in various risk exposed countries, through strengthening preparedness for response capacities and regions, aiming at reducing impact in case of heavy earthquakes.

USAR domains of support

Due to over 30 years of experience after many deployments, exercises and trainings of the Swiss urban search and rescue (USAR) team "Swiss Rescue" (a chain of several partner institutions), SDC has been supporting countries and partner institutions all over the world with the establishment of national and international Rapid Response / USAR teams according to the INSARAG (International Search And Rescue Advisory Group ) guidelines (available here in English, Spanish, Hungarian, Arabic, Russian, French).


SDC's support focuses on consultancy, theoretical and practical trainings and exercises in the following USAR domains:


 INSARAG is a global network of more than 80 countries and organizations under the United Nations umbrella. INSARAG deals with urban search and rescue (USAR) related issues, aiming at establishing minimum international standards for USAR teams and methodology for international coordination in earthquake response, based on the INSARAG Guidelines endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/150 of 2002, on "Strengthening the Effectiveness and Coordination of International Urban Search and Rescue Assistance".

The INSARAG External Classification (IEC) system, which exists since 2005, provides better understanding of the individual abilities of USAR teams making themselves available for international assistance. Having teams classified according to a standard will enable disaster affected countries to prioritize acceptance of international response support from USAR teams which can add proven value to their national capacity. The IEC is an independent, verifiable, voluntary process that has received unanimous acceptance through the INSARAG. Meanwhile, over 40 USAR teams have passed the IEC on "medium" or "heavy" level. The IEC needs to be refreshed through a Re-Classification (IER) every 5 years.

 Projects and partner countries

 Jordan: In 2013 the USAR team of the Jordan National Civil Defence was the first one in the Arab world to achieve, with support of SDC, the INSARAG classification on level "heavy". For further information please contact Nayef Khouri, SDC office, Amman, Jordan.


 Morocco: In 2014 the USAR team of the Moroccan National Civil Defence was the first one on the African continent to achieve, with support of SDC since 2008, the INSARAG classification on level "heavy".


Further USAR capacity building activities have so far been implemented in India, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Central America, Pakistan, Tajikistan.   

Contact and informations

Simon Tschurr

Sägestrasse 77, Köniz, 3003 Bern - Switzerland