Mass Rescue Operations (MRO)
Internationally, Mass Rescue Operations “are characterized by the need for immediate response to large numbers of persons in distress, such that the capabilities normally available to SAR authorities are inadequate.”
Large number of people in distress elevates the scale and complexity of MRO events beyond normal SAR operations. Extraordinary effort and coordination by SAR and emergency management authorities must be mobilized in an effective and efficient manner. Further refinement of the International Aeronautical Maritime Search And Rescue (IAMSAR) manual definition revels there is no absolute value to “large number of persons in distress.” Time of day, location, and environmental factors may be a better determining factor driving the availability and capability of rescue resources.
In line with IMO and ICAOs focus on maritime and aviation transportation, MROs are generally in response to transportation disasters but can be in response to any large rescue operation. Within the United States, MRO classification is further refined from the internationally accepted definition. MROs in the U.S. are in response to Transportation System incidents. Such incidents include commercial air, rail, and ship distress, or major petroleum pipeline breaches.
Guidance and documents pertaining to Mass Rescue Operations
Coast Guard Passenger Vessel Safety Program
This link is to the Coast Guard Passenger Vessel Safety Program web page, which provides additional information concerning mass rescue operations, exercises, planning, training, and other information on maritime mass rescue.
Understanding the Challenge: Mass Rescue Operations at Sea
This article describes the challenges SAR authorities may face in planning, preparing and responding to mass rescue operations at sea.
Building a MRO Culture
Presentation discusses the challenges in conducting a mass rescue operation; in particular, cultural barriers.
USCG MRO Planning Guidance
In the event of a mass rescue (MRO), no single organization is fully equipped to mount an effective response. The success of an MRO is contingent upon the seamless efforts of search and rescue agencies, the company, mutual assistance assets, and Good Samaritans. Success is also contingent upon effective plans and the exercising of those plans.
The purpose of this planning guidance is to assist those in developing plans for mass rescue operations in the maritime or navigable waterway environment. Mass rescues could be the result of a ship, aircraft, rail, roadway or natural disaster incident. In any case, the sequence of priority in major multi-mission incidents must be lifesaving, environmental protection, and then property protection.
The intent of this planning guidance is to also generate consistency, raise awareness, identify stakeholders, and provide continuity between existing emergency plans such as: Federal, State, County, City, Industry (e.g. Involved Party, Salvagers, etc.), Good Samaritan, and Volunteer Organizations.
International Maritime Organization (IMO) Guidance Documents
Mass Rescue Operations Job Aids
Black Swan After Action Report Executive Summary, August 2013
Black Swan After Action Report Executive Summary, August 2015