The brainchild of the A-PAD CEO, Mr. Kensuke Onishi, Search and Rescue became within the bandwidth of A-PAD’s regional mandate. A primary model was formalized in Japan with required equipment and extensive curated training programs and a team was created. Headed by A-PAD’s very own head coach Mr. Huang Chun Yuan (Koh San), this team carried our rigorous trainings and enabled itself for international rescue deployments. As such, in 2015, the A-PAD International Search and Rescue Team arrived in Nepal along for its first earthquake rescue and response. Following this, annual training programs were scheduled in Japan for the members to be certified and hands-on in the thematic area.
Sri Lanka, a regional hub for A-PAD would be the next destination to which the Search and Rescue model would be replicated in. The year 2016 and 2017 saw a collective of 8 volunteer lives that were lost while engaging in flood water rescue missions in Sri Lanka. Following several cross-national and bi-lateral conversations inland and overseas, it was decided that a Civil-Military (CIMIC) led team would be best suited for the nation and the technical knowledge would be provided by A-PAD’s own international team members. In 2017, Sri Lanka saw its first ever CIMIC Search and Rescue training program in the Sri Lanka Air Force Base of Koggala. Representatives from Tri-forces, Police/STF, private sector, extreme sports teams and volunteers were seen training together and identifying each other’s capabilities, while the trainer team assessed the overall strengths and prepare for future training.
In 2019, the Level 01 Swift Water Search and Rescue International Training was carried out in partnership with the Special Boat Squadron of Sri Lanka Navy at Gangewadiya and Level 02 saw completion in 2020 at Kithulgala. Currently a total of 72 persons have been internationally trained and certified in level 01 swift water rescue while 22 persons are qualified for level 02 as well. These team members have been nationally certified and are in the forward positioning of the Disaster Management Centre emergency response teams.
Apart from physical level training programs, several skill-based thematic areas such as psychosocial/psychological first aid, local refresher trainings etc are carried out on an annual basis in keeping with international requirements.
We thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan and the A-PAD international team for all the support rendered towards Sri Lanka, in creating the current team and providing internationally accredited equipment in ensuring safety and security of the team members. Furthermore, A-PAD SL also extends in deepest appreciation to the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka and its plenipotentiary leadership for closely working with the platform and recognizing our efforts in this rather unique venture.