Introduction: Sri Lanka Army is a valuable resource for the country as a capacity factor in disaster situations. Sri Lanka Army has established Search and Rescue teams (SAR teams) in all 25 districts.
Objectives: To describe the knowledge, attitudes and practices of SAR teams of SL Army regarding search and rescue as a response to disasters.
Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out from October to December 2017.
5 platoons each were selected randomly from high and medium risk district categories and all 5 platoons were selected from low risk category. Total sample size was 465. A pre-tested self-administered questionnaire was employed.
Result: Median age of was 28 years. 3.2% were officers and 96.8% were soldiers and majority 80.4% educated up to G.C.E. (O/L), 62.4% were married. 52.9% of the population had undergone SAR training during past three years in Sri Lanka and none had undergone training outside the country.
Overall knowledge regarding search and rescue as response to disasters seem to be good, that is >75 percentage score, 57.2%. 93.8% has desirable positive attitudes. 73.5% had participated in search and rescue operation as response to disasters. Overall practices seemed to be poor, that is <75 percentage score in 71.3% of the population.
A statistically significant association was observed with level of education (p= 0.001), and designation (p= 0.004) and knowledge on search and rescue as a response to disasters. Level of education, designation and SAR training had no significant association with attitudes on search and rescue as a response to disasters. A statistically significant association was observed with designation (p= 0.021) and practices.
Discussion: Search and rescue drills should be carried out regularly. Knowledge on search and rescue as response to disasters should be incorporated in to the basic training programme for officers and soldiers.