Israel was one of 27 countries to answer NATO’s recent call for an international search, rescue and recovery exercise in Montenegro. The National Emergency Management Authority delegation from Israel included 24 people from ZAKA Divers Unit, Fire and Rescue Authority’s central unit, representatives of the Search and Rescue units from the Home Front Command and the Ministry of Defense.

The international exercise enacted a scenario in which the rivers in Montenegro flooded large populated areas, causing severe damage to property and residents.

ZAKA Divers Unit in a NATO exercise in Montenegro. Photo courtesy of ZAKA
ZAKA Divers Unit in a NATO exercise in Montenegro. Photo courtesy of ZAKA

According to the exercise scenario, some of the bridges had collapsed, roads were destroyed, and the volunteers were mostly moving from place to place by boat. The ZAKA Divers Unit – taking part in their first-ever NATO international search — used the ZAKA Scooter, an underwater motorized scooter, developed exclusively by ZAKA, which is intended for searching for missing people underwater.

“This was a very important exercise – our first NATO exercise – with complex rescue challenges. The ability to work together with the firefighting and rescue teams from around the world allowed us to execute the task perfectly, while earning the admiration of the exercise organizers and accumulating significant knowledge for the ZAKA Divers Unit,” said ZAKA Divers Unit commander Haim Outmezgine. “Without a doubt, participating in such an exercise has given us greater knowledge and experience for use in real-life situations.”

Israeli search teams took part in a NATO exercise in Montenegro. Photo courtesy of ZAKA
Israeli search teams took part in a NATO exercise in Montenegro. Photo courtesy of ZAKA