Top UN grade for Lionheart rescue unit

Top UN grade for Lionheart rescue unit
Members of the SCDF Lionheart unit who took part in the reclassification exercise.

SINGAPORE - An elite rescue team from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has earned the highest possible grade for urban search-and-rescue operations.

This was after the unit, codenamed Lionheart, completed a 36-hour exercise on Saturday afternoon. The exercise, which started on Thursday, was its second consecutive certification by experts from the United Nations as a heavy urban search-and-rescue team. This also means the 76-strong SCDF unit can continue to respond to disasters anywhere in the world.

The certification process saw the UN assessors testing the team's ability to be deployed quickly, as well as its other capabilities such as rescuing victims trapped under collapsed buildings.

The Lionheart team received its certification - its second since 2008 - from Mr Terje Skavdal, chief of the UN's field coordination support section and secretary of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group, at a ceremony held at the Civil Defence Academy here.

UN-sanctioned rescue teams have to undergo the certification test every five years.

The SCDF unit has responded to 13 overseas disasters since it was formed in 1990, including the 2011 earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand and the Dec 26, 2004 tsunami.

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