Following a pilot project in the Americas region, the International Federation is in the process of developing disaster management units that will provide operational support and services in disaster response and disaster response preparedness to National Societies in the different regions.
The 35 Red Cross National Societies of the Americas have long experience in disaster response, but vary greatly in their resources and capacities. Following the severe impact of natural disasters on the region in the late 1990s, the International Federation created as a pilot project the Panama-based Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU), an operational unit incorporated in the Secretariat support structure in the Americas. PADRU's primary responsibility is to act as the delegations' disaster response coordination arm, while its secondary function is to contribute technical inputs to the implementation of regional disaster preparedness programmes, particularly in the area of preparedness for response.
Since its inception, PADRU has developed substantial capacity in areas such as disaster response training, telecommunications, and logistics, and has responded (in coordination with the regional delegations) to over 17 major international emergencies. It has been a major force behind the development of the Regional Intervention Team (RIT) concept in the Americas, and has pioneered innovative response techniques such as the pre-positioning of Federation disaster management delegates and Regional Intervention Team members in countries threatened by hurricane strikes. PADRU now stands at the centre of an integral Red Cross disaster response system in the Americas, playing a pivotal role in providing National Societies with rapid and coordinated assistance when disasters occur.
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