For the first time, ZAKA volunteers have been invited to participate in a rescue drill sponsored by the international defense organization. The drill took place in Montenegro, a southern European country that in recent years was devastated by flooding, damage from which is still extant in the country.
ZAKA was part of an Israeli delegation that joined delegations from 27 other countries participating in the exercise, which demonstrated improving methods and tactics of helping civilians deal with the aftermath of major flooding. Twenty-four ZAKA volunteers, including seven members of its scuba-diving unit, participated in the drill, which was held under difficult conditions, with water temperatures not much above freezing.
The drill entailed organizing operations under true emergency conditions – with collapsed bridges and roads, downed trees and electricity wires, and a general lack of communications. The main method of transportation under such circumstances would be lifeboats and rafts, and participants needed to be able to rescue civilians stuck on the upper floors of homes and stranded on high patches of land, surrounded by water, or stuck in cars on roads that were experiencing flash floods.
In a statement, ZAKA said that “this was a significant drill that allowed us to practice advanced, complicated rescue techniques. The ability to act as part of a team with other rescue groups from around the world allowed us to perform our roles in as good a manner as possible, and helped the scuba-diver unit to improve its discipline and capabilities. There is no doubt that our delegation, like all the others that participated, were able to gain experience that will allow us to act more effectively in the event of a real emergency.”