Some 2,000 men and women from the naval forces of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, and the United States participated in a natural disaster drill in Colombia, mainly based mainly on an exercise to respond to a category 5 hurricane.
The drill, called Solidarex 2023 was executed by 12 warships, seven urban search and rescue groups, six diving groups, four helicopters, three pre-hospital care groups, and two coast guard rapid reaction units.
“You have observed important rescue activities at sea, also urban rescue in collapsed areas. We have also simulated rescue exercises of sunken ships, rescue of people at sea, and we also carried out an important exercise of emergencies with hazardous materials and simulating oil spills,” Admiral Francisco Cubides, commander of the Colombian Navy, told Voice of America.
He added that “all this in the framework of a simulated situation that can be caused in the case of a hurricane or a tsunami.”
With the development of this meteorological phenomenon, Ramond Kutnick, a U.S. Army medic, told VOA that with the “simulation” of these natural disasters such as category 5 hurricanes they “seek” to act in a timely manner.
“At the end of the day we’re always trying to become more competent and provide the best level of care that we can to the casualties and our patients in general. So any time we have the opportunity to practice this in a real scenario and add different variables to it, such as the various partner countries and seeing how they go about their tasks, as well as the medical techniques they employ, it’s always a pleasure for us,” Kutnick said.
Offshore rescues with parachute and cargo drops, search and rescue in collapsed areas, and hydrocarbon containment are some of the exercises carried out, acting in an integrated manner as a multinational task force for first response to large-scale natural disasters, since these countries have a long history of disasters caused by hurricanes, tropical storms, and floods associated with these meteorological phenomena.
“It’s a totally new experience, because we had not had the opportunity to practice in these exercises. Everything we have learned in such a practical way … so real,” Mexican Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Alan Saenz told VOA.
It is hoped that with this type of exercise more countries will join this operation to continue strengthening ties and experiences in the event of natural emergencies. According to the United Nations, Latin America and the Caribbean is the second most prone region to natural disasters worldwide.