More than 70 international search and rescue experts from 19 countries descended on Cairns from 15-16 August to discuss the Asia-Pacific’s disaster preparedness as part of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting.

Minister for Fire and Emergency Services, Craig Crawford, said it was the first time the event had been held in Far North Queensland, where approximately 5600 QFES staff and volunteers are currently based.

“In this year’s Budget, the Palaszczuk Government proudly committed an additional $740 million to provide frontline emergency services with the facilities and equipment needed to protect Queensland communities,” Mr Crawford said.

“Queensland and New South Wales are the only two states in Australia with accredited international disaster capability, and that’s something we’re extremely proud of.

“This week’s meeting is the perfect opportunity for Queensland’s experts to show the world what we have to offer in terms of the outstanding talent of our first response officers.

“It’s also a chance for professionals in the field to come together to discuss advances in search and rescue operations – and as Regional Chair for 2019, we’re extremely pleased to host our colleagues from across the globe.

“Queensland’s Disaster Assistance Response Team is recognised as a leader in the industry, with capability to be deployed overseas to help in times of crisis, and provide training to countries such as China to gain international accreditation.

“After a horrendous year of drought, floods and cyclones, Queenslanders are all too aware of the important role that members of QFES play in keeping our communities safe,” Mr Crawford said.

Member for Cairns, Michael Healy, said Urban Search and Rescue teams worldwide provide vital response when disaster strikes, including rescuing people trapped by building collapses, earthquakes, fires and other emergency events.

“We’re extremely proud of our rescue teams and their commitment to becoming global leaders when it comes to search and rescue,” Mr Healy said.

“QFES prides itself on its emergency preparedness, so to host the Asia-Pacific Regional meeting is a fantastic opportunity for them to share their achievements and to hear from a wide-range of stakeholders on what can be done better now and into the future.”

The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, members of QFES, Fire and Rescue New South Wales and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also attended the meeting.