Today the Far Eastern Regional Search and Rescue Unit of the Russian Emergencies Ministry (FERSARU) celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Over these years the rescuers of the Unit have been dispatched over 35,000 times to mitigate natural disasters and man-caused accidents, carry out search and rescue operations. More than 30,000 people were rescued and provided with aid.
The Far Eastern Regional Search and Rescue Center includes 20 territorial search and rescue units, located in every constituent entity from Yakutia to Kuril Islands. The Unit protects the whole Far East, which is about 36% of the total square of Russia.
There were only 14 rescuers-enthusiasts 25 years ago, while today the total number of personnel is 760 people. Every rescuer is qualified in several specializations: engineers, communications specialists, doctors, gas welders, divers, smokejumpers, climbers, cynologists, demolition experts, drivers and speleologists.
The unit has rescue equipment, including off-road and special vehicles, boats, equipment for response to accidents featuring chemicals, diving equipment, as well as a unique Falcon mini-sub. The unit also has a wide set of rescue equipment (hydraulic and pneumatic equipment), search equipment (radar, acoustic, video, GPS equipment), equipment for deployment (parachutes, platforms), as well as communications equipment (mobile satellite communication and radio station equipment), stationary and mobile pressure chambers and other vehicles and equipment, allowing for autonomous operation.
Modern equipment provides immediate response to emergencies and efficient search and rescue and emergency operations during earthquakes, floods and man-caused accidents. Specialized divisions of the Unit (divers, cynologysts, paratroopers, pyrotechnics, hazmat units) are capable of operating in any part of the world in any climate conditions.
Over 80 rescuers of the Unit are decorated with state and departmental awards, 9 rescuers were given a title of the Honored Rescuer of the Russian Federation, 12 specialists are certified as World-Class Rescuers.
In 2017 the FERSARU has started preparation to be certified under International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) standards to boost the Unit’s level of professional training and get a capability to respond to international emergencies.
Rescuers of the Unit will celebrate its 25th anniversary by holding a parade and flashmob “Safe Winter” tomorrow, on 13 January in the city of Khabarovsk. A special vehicle for helicopter transportation and first aid rendering, as well as a snow and Los swamp-going vehicle, designed to get through rough terrain, rescue vehicles and other special vehicles will be featured in the parade.
History of the Unit (the most significant search and rescue operations):
1994 – Earthquake at Iturip Island. FERSARU’s rescuers were one of the first to arrive to aid the injured;
1995 – earthquake in the town of Neftegorsk (Sakhalin Island). FERSARU’s rescuers rescued more than 30 adults and children from rubble;
1996 – search for an Ilyushin Il-76 jet, crashed in Kamchatka;
2008 – response to earthquake in China, Sichuan province;
2011- response to earthquake and tsunami in Japan, clearing out of rubble and search of people in the town of Sendai;
2013 – response to major flooding in Far East. For three months, rescuers continued search and rescue operations, evacuation of the injured, emergency and repair operations in the settlements of Amur Region, Jewish Autonomous Area, in the town of Komsomolsk-on-Amur (Mylki Dam), and in settlements of Khabarovsk Territory.
2014 – response to fires in Yakutia, taking out of wildfires and making fire barriers;
2014 – response to snow cyclone in Khabarovsk Territory. In three days FERSARU’s rescuers in cooperation with other Emergencies Ministry’s units rescued more than 470 people pulled more than 260 vehicles from snowdrifts, including coaches, trucks loaded with provisions and fuel;
2015 – response to snow cyclone in Sakhalin Island, evacuating more than 27 vehicles from motorways, rendering aid to more than 100 people in one day.
2015 – FERSARU’s rescuers evacuated more than 200 fishers from a detached ice-floe;
2015 – FERSARU’s rescuers evacuated 27 crewmen from Narval vessel, which run aground and got its hull breached;
2015 – response to flood in Maritime Territory, rendering of aid and evacuation of residents from flooded areas, as well as evacuation of animals from the zoo of Ussuriysk;
2016 – response to wildfires, protection of settlements against wildfires in Amur Region in cooperation with Vladivostok and Amur Search and Rescue Units;
2016 – rescue operation on the Lena River in Sakha Republic (Yakutia) to evacuate passengers from Stepan Arzhakov diesel-boat, which ran aground due to adverse weather (31 people, including 10 children, which were evacuated to the town of Yakutsk by helicopters);
2016 – 2017 – response to several powerful typhoons in Maritime Territory, rendering aid and rescuing to affected people and conducting emergency and repair operations.