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INSARAG is a global network of more than 90 countries and organizations under the United Nations umbrella. INSARAG deals with urban search and rescue (USAR) related issues, aiming to establish minimum international standards for USAR teams and methodology for international coordination in earthquake response based on the INSARAG Guidelines endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/150 of 2002, on “Strengthening the Effectiveness and Coordination of International Urban Search and Rescue Assistance”.

INSARAG requested the assistance of advanced Spanish speaking GISCorps volunteers to perform the following tasks:

  • Prepare training material for Esri products listed below (PDF files or videos)
  • Translate existing training material to Spanish (PDF files or videos)
  • Deliver training material to INSARAG members twice a year
  • Refresh training material during the year on an as needed basis
  • Be able and willing to brainstorm with the INSARAG team about their current tools and workflows and offer alternative workflows and/or tools when appropriate

The recruitment resulted in selection of Ignacio (Nacho) Vázquez Vélez from Spain (taking on the role of project manager) and Ivini De Souza Barbosa from Massachusetts. Ivini participated in the early stages of the project while Nacho agreed to an extension and provided services to INSARAG for 18 months. Following is a report that Nacho submitted at the conclusion of the project.

By Ignacio (Nacho) Vázquez Vélez

As a volunteer for this project, I have been assisting INSARAG in training Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams in the Americas Region in the Spanish language for the past 18 months.

Initially, my mission was to become familiar with the INSARAG Coordination & Management System, which utilizes various Esri GIS applications, including dashboards and forms, to ensure effective coordination during rescue responses. Once I grasped the system’s functionality, I adapted the existing training materials to create a 1.5-hour training session in Spanish. This session incorporated presentations and hands-on demonstrations aimed at instructing USAR teams on how to utilize the system.

I conducted this training remotely through sessions organized by INSARAG, reaching out to rescue teams from multiple countries, including Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, and Argentina.

I consider myself fortunate to have been able to contribute my GIS knowledge to such an important task undertaken by these dedicated rescue teams.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to Shoreh Elhami (GISCorps Founder), John Morrison (INSARAG Information Management Working Group), Patricio Fuentes (USAR Chile), Reem Naim (OCHA), and Ana María Rebaza (OCHA) for their kind support and guidance during this valuable volunteer experience.

“Nacho, you’ve been amazing to work with. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done to prepare our Spanish speaking teams for disaster response. Your work will lead to lives saved and coordination vastly improved in sudden onset disasters. That can never be underestimated.”
John Morrison, INSARAG

Project completed.

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