Lt. Colonel Mohammed Abdul Jalil Al Ansari, Chief of the Search and Rescue Section at the Emergency and Public Safety Department at the General Directorate of Central Operation, Abu Dhabi Police and Head of the UAE Search and Rescue Team is the first Arab and the lowest rank to hold the position of Vice President o United Nations’ International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). Al Ansari was awarded the 2014 Best on-Field Officer Award from the General Directorate of Central Operation. This reasserts the distinguished position he acquired and the success of his work team. These two factors directly contributed in granting him this senior position.
Adopting the motto of “We Wok Silently and Execute Robustly” for 2014, Lt. Colonel Al Ansari graduated from Police College in 1998. He joined in 1999 the Criminal Security at the Ministry of Interior and moved after that to the Directorate General of Guards and Special Tasks. After that, he moved to the Emergency and Rescue Section and he is still at the same department as the longest serving officer in the Section.
Lt. Colonel Al Ansari is one of the unknown soldiers who work silently and let their actions speak for them. The appreciation certificates that such soldiers obtain reflect their skills and capabilities to face difficult challenges.
The following interview sheds lights on most recent updates and tasks of the Search and Rescue Section at Abu Dhabi Police.
Q: When was the UAE Search and Rescue Team Established?
A: the Search and Rescue Team was established in 2001 as a specialized team in quick response for accidents following the pilgrims’ bus accidents in Sieh Shuaib area. After that, the Search and Rescue Section recorded many achievements both locally and internationally. In 2005, the Search and Rescue Team did its first international contribution following the Balakot Earthquake in Pakistan. In 2009, the second step was taken with the aim of transforming the team from a specialized team into a professional team. After that the team acquired the accreditation of the (INSARAG). With fulfilling this goal in December 2009, the UAE Search and Rescue Team was the first rescue team across the MENA region.
Q: Being the most inclusive section at the Abu Dhabi Police; the Search and Rescue Section includes many departments. What are those departments and what is their role?
A: the Section which is the largest of its kind includes 8 departments, namely: Emergency and Public Safety, Security Media, Workshops and Transportation, Engineering Projects, Information Technology (IT), Central Operations, Security Inspection (K9), and Medical Services departments. These departments coordinate their work together on all the tasks executed by the UAE Search and Rescue Team.
Q: In 2013, the Section was classified by the (INSARAG). What does this classification represent?
A: the Section gained the international Search and Rescue ISO certification. This classification comprises of 134 items that are examined by five expert judges representing five different search and rescue teams from different countries to ensure neutralism. The inspection system is precise and rigorous, and not easy to pass. The UAE Search and Rescue Team achieved the first rank internationally as it moved from the medium to the heavy category while other teams failed.
Q: What are the most recent regional and international developments in Search and Rescue?
A: we are working on strengthening regional and international partnerships in various fields. These include, among others, training and response aspects, in addition to the developmental aspect. We have helped the Omani, Qatari and Saudi teams in their international classification and accreditation projects. Regarding the response aspect, we have a partnership with the (INSARAG) and we are continuously coordinating with them. We also share the same levels of partnerships and coordination with the British, Singaporean, American, and Australian search and rescue teams. As for training partnerships, in my capacity as the Head of the Developmental Committee of the Search and Rescue Team of the GCC countries and Jordan (6+1), we are working on developing new training methods and setting unified rules for establishing search and rescue teams.
Q: Is there any specified mechanisms for seeking regional and international aid?
A: there are three main mechanisms for seeking regional and international aid. It could be done either through mutual relationships, asking for international aid from the (INSARAG), or through the Secretary-General of the United Nations. All three mechanisms are accredited by the United Nations and the authorities and organizations under it.
Q: Your local and International contributions played an active role in saving many lives. Could you please shed light on these contributions?
A: on the local level we participated in handling the Cyclone Gonu and Cyclone Phet on the Eastern shores of the UAE. The Section also managed the results of the heavy rains that the Northern Emirates witnessed more than once through the previous years. On the regional level, we provided through the (INSARAG) all support and aid to the Sultanate of Oman on many occasions. On the international level we took part in the search and rescue efforts after the Pakistan Earthquake in 2005, the Afghanistan Earthquake in 2008, and the Indonesia Earthquakes in 2006, 2007, and 2009.
Q: You use most modern devices that directly contribute to developing the search and rescue mechanisms. What is the most modern device you have?
A: the most modern equipment we presently have is a remote-controlled helicopter that is equipped with a camera. The UAE Search and Rescue Team is the first team to use this camera globally. This camera facilitates the detection and evaluation of risks in the work area and it helps the team leader to follow up the work of his team.
Q: Are there any future plans for developing the missions of the UAE Search and Rescue Team?
A: there are many plans that aim to develop and update the work mechanisms and methods according to the international standard requirements following the directives of the higher leadership. Additionally, we are continuously working on developing ourselves based on practical experiences.
Q: As the Head of the UAE Search and Rescue Team, what are the key characteristics of the successful leader on this filed?
A: the search and rescue work is a voluntarily work and cannot be tailored to fit a specific person. A volunteer should have an inner motivation and will to sacrifice and help others. He should also possess the ability to take the right decision on the right time. He should also be able to conduct continuous self-development, and above all enjoy the spirit of teamwork.