Firefighters will host new regional center for urban search and rescue

Central American countries will gather in Costa Rica Monday for the inauguration of the Central American Academy of Urban Search and Rescue. Geared towards disaster situations in cities and towns, the center will allow authorities from across Central America to prepare and train their search and rescue teams.

The headquarters is located inside the Academia de Bomberos de Costa Rica in Desamparados, which has up to 40 rooms available for the rescue workers. There is also a special area where rescuers can simulate situations in which buildings collapse. For rescue organizations across the region, including police and Red Cross outfits, this Costa Rican center should help quicken first response times and provide for higher quality training in rescue teams.

A release from the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias said the new academy should immediately boost infrastructure capabilities and allow forces to reach the level of response training outlined by the United Nations’ International Search and Rescue Advisory Group.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation contributed $1.3 million to help build the academy, while the Costa Rican government pitched in with $2 million more on the project. Chief sponsorship comes from the Centro de Coordinación para la Prevención de los Desastres Naturales en América Central, which was established in 1988 as a means of having Central American nations join together on natural disaster prevention, response, and mitigation.

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