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Bern, Press release, 05.03.2012

Swiss Rescue is one of the world's most professional rescue teams. To ensure it meets the highest standards, exercises must be held at regular intervals to practice for the real thing. From 13 to 15 March the unit - around 100 personnel and 12 dogs - will be put through its paces in the presence of Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter and the Federal Council's Delegate for Humanitarian Aid, Manuel Bessler. The exercise will be conducted in the greater Geneva area.

The exercise is set in the fictional country of 'Romandia', in reality the greater Geneva area, and the scenario envisages a powerful 6.6 magnitude underground earthquake. According to the script there are hundreds of dead, more than 3,000 injured, many seriously, large numbers of short and long-term homeless as well as collapsed buildings. Within the framework of this scenario, Swiss Rescue, under the leadership of Swiss Humanitarian Aid, will conduct a deployment exercise extending all the way from the initial alarm through to demobilisation. This will enable it to fulfil the requirements of the UN INSARAG (UN International Search and Rescue Advisory Group), which demand that rescue teams conduct regular exercises to ensure they are able to meet the requirements for international deployment in the event of major disasters. 

Overall around 180 specialists from Humanitarian Aid, the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA), the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport and the Swiss Disaster Dog Association will be deployed. During the exercise new processes and forms of cooperation will be implemented and assessed, such as with Le Shop and Geneva airport. 

Specialists from rescue services and business as well as representatives from international organisations and the media will attend the exercise. Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, who as Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) also presides over Swiss Humanitarian Aid, also intends to visit the exercise. In addition, Ambassador Manuel Bessler will also be an observer at the exercise in his capacity as the Federal Council's Delegate for Humanitarian Aid and Head of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit SHA. 

Representatives of the media are invited to visit the scene of the fictitious earthquake and discuss the operation with the exercise management on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 from 9.30 a.m. onwards. Prior registration is required.

Further Information:
Susanna Graf (Humanitarian Aid): 079 203 74 30
George Farago (Information FDFA): 079 301 70 35 

Further information:

Swiss Rescue

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