Hellenic Rescue Team (H.R.T.) is a Non-Governmental Search and Rescue Organization, whose members have been participated voluntarily in operations since 1978 and has been functioning as an association since 1994.
HRT’s headquarters is located in Thessaloniki, but the organization’s network consists of another 32 branches and readiness bases all over Greece. The Hellenic Rescue Team is certified by the General Secretariat of Civil Protection of the Ministry of Citizen Protection with Reg. No 6, as well as by the INSARAG of the United Nations since 23 June 2005 and therefore is recognized as the only international rescue organization in Greece. It is in continuous cooperation with OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), the Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as with ECHO (European Community Humanitarian Office) of the European Union. It is also the only Greek organization that is a member of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (IKAR-CISA), the International Maritime Rescue Federation (I.M.R.F.) and the International Rescue Dog Organization (IRO).
For its rescue work at sea during the huge refugee crisis in Greece, the Hellenic Rescue Team was awarded in November 2016 by the UNHCR with the Nansen prize, the highest UNHCR distinction. This award was and still is a tremendous honor for volunteerism and at the same time a great legacy for all the organization’s volunteers operating in the branches of HRT in Lesvos, Samos, Kos and the newest of all in Chios, but also to all our volunteers who, in their own way, helped during the refugee crisis. Only in 2014 and 2015 in Lesvos, Samos and Kos members of HRT participated in more than 1.100 rescue operations saving almost 2.500 people and helping to get safely to shore over 7.000 people.
With a workforce of more than 2,500 volunteers all over Greece, the Hellenic Rescue Team participates in search and rescue operations in emergency situations and mass destructions, wherever they take place, both in Greece and abroad, and is staffed by volunteers with professional conscience and high level training.
On operational level there are two Directorates – Operations and Training – which are based in HRT headquarters. Specialized departments operate in each Hellenic Rescue Team branch. These departments are as per below:
1. Mountain Rescue
2. Water Rescue
3. Urban Search and Rescue
4. First Aid
5. Search Dogs
6. Research and Technology
7. Humanitarian & Social Care Department