The SCDF is the first organisation in the Asia-Pacific region to be classified as a Heavy Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) Team by the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) in 2008. This Heavy USAR Team classification is the highest level of recognition that can be accorded to USAR Teams by the United Nations. This seal of approval allows disaster affected countries to regard SCDF's USAR capabilities favourably when prioritising acceptance of international response support.
The SCDF maintains a dedicated 76-man standby contingent round-the-clock codenamed Operation Lionheart where its core function is to provide urban search and rescue and/or humanitarian relief assistance to countries afflicted by major disasters. The Operation Lionheart contingent comprises rescuers from the SCDF's elite Disaster Assistance & Rescue Team (DART) and from the frontline units including Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) men. Our rescuers are equipped with specialised equipment like life detecting devices and lifting and cutting tools to aid them in such missions. DART is highly trained in urban search and rescue, height rescue, medical trauma incidents, water search and rescue, heli-bucket operations, to name a few. Besides rescuers, the contingent also consists of search dogs and technical experts such as civil engineers and doctors who specialise in trauma and emergency medicine.
Since the formation of this contingent in 1990, it had been deployed throughout the Asia-Pacific region to render humanitarian assistance to countries hit by major disasters. Its most recent deployment was as part of the Home Team contingent to Nepal to conduct rescue and recovery operations and to provide humanitarian aid in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake in April this year.
Below is the list of Operation Lionheart missions since 1990: