Bangladesh Ministers and other senior figures from the Government, Navy and emergency response services will meet representatives of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) in Dhaka next week to discuss mass rescue operations on or near water.
A mass rescue workshop, during which organizations and agencies will share views on search and rescue, will be opened by Dr Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, Home Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs, Bangladesh secretariat.
The IMRF represents the global maritime search and rescue (SAR) community and one of its most important current projects is on mass rescue operations. These are characterized by the need for immediate response to large numbers of people in distress when the capabilities normally available to the SAR authorities are inadequate.
IMRF Chairman Michael Vlasto says: "A mass rescue operation is one of the most difficult that those who provide maritime SAR services will ever have to face. Anyone involved in emergency response on, or near the water may find themselves part of a mass rescue operation. It is vital to be as well prepared as is possible."
Accidents on Bangladesh's waterways are all too frequent. The Sadarghat Launch Terminal in the capital, Dhaka, is part of one of the largest river ports in the world. More than 200 passenger launches, large and small, depart and arrive every day, carrying an estimated 50,000 people. In addition, hundreds more 'country boats' ply the river laden with passengers and merchandise.
"Our workshop will discuss roles, responsibilities and capabilities so as to improve inter-agency communications and preparedness and help create a platform for further national and/or international work on the issues," said IMRF Chief Executive, Bruce Reid.
"The IMRF project aims to raise awareness of the need to prepare, to share experience, and to audit progress in planning and training," he added. "With this in mind we are providing an international focus on mass rescue at, or by, sea and a forum for discussion."
By doing this, the IMRF and its partners are able to identify specific problems which will benefit from further research and development and potential amendments to international regulation and guidance. The IMRF is also compiling a dynamic web-based library of practical data to help those preparing themselves for their own involvement in mass rescue operations.
The event in Dhaka will also include a welcome address from Rear Admiral Kazi Sarwar Hossain, Director General, Bangladesh Coast Guard and a speech from IMRF Chairman Michael Vlasto, who has recently retired as Operations Director for the UK and Ireland's Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), after a distinguished 39 year career.
Special guest Vice Admiral M Farid Habib, Chief of the Naval Staff will also deliver a speech and other distinguished attendees will include Lt General Md Moinul Islam, Chief of General Staff, and Air Vice Marshal Abu Esrar, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations and Training).
The IMRF has already held a number of workshops and two successful international conferences on mass rescue operations. A third conference is planned for June 2014, in Gothenburg, Sweden.