The World Rescue Organisation as it is known now was formed in October 1999. The inaugural meeting of the World Council of Rescue Organisations as it was then known was held at the Chifely on Finninglay Hotel in Melbourne. Attending the meeting were representatives from ANARA (now known as ARRO) CUEES now known as UKRO, TERC USA, Victoria State Emergency Services and Holmatro.
At that meeting the Executive Committee was elected, Jeff Ord from CUEES and the Chief Officer of Strathclyde Fire & Rescue was elected as chair. Rhyes Maggs chair of ANARA and director of VICSES was elected as Vice-Chair. Robert Walmsley from Halmatro was elected as Secretary and Mike Akers from TERC USA was elected as Treasurer. The meeting coincided with the Rescue Down Under Challenge. It was agreed at the meeting that the next World Challenge would be hosted in Scotland by the Scottish Fire Service Collage, Strathclyde Fire & Rescue & CUEES.
In 2000, the 1st World Rescue Challenge saw 21 teams attend the challenge. The second meeting the WRCO was held during which the constitution was ratified and it was agreed that the WRCO should apply for registered company and charitable status. Officials elected were Jeff Ord as Chair, Rhyes Maggs as Vice-Chair, Mike Akers as Treasurer and Cameron Black as the Secretary with the new post of Assessor Coordinator created, Paul Jerome from ANRARA (ARRO) took on the role.
In 2001 the World Rescue Challenge moved to Johannesburg, South Africa the event was run by Rescue South Africa and saw 22 teams attend. During the event the WCRO held its second annual general meeting at that meeting the documents for Charitable Status and Company Registration were accepted and agreed. It was also agreed at the meeting that the Organisations name would change to World Rescue Organisation. The committee agreed to take the 2002 challenge to the Czech Republic where CUEES and the Prague City Fire Department would manage the event under the supervision of the WRO Secretary.
The 2002 Challenge was held in the City of Prague, during the planning stages the event team were faced with some very unusual challenges, one month before the challenge over 40 cars which were to be used for the event were washed away by the Vltava River during unprecedented floods experienced by the city that year. Many of these cars were never located. Despite these challenges the event was a real success. During the WRO’s AGM a new chair was elected which saw Rhys Maggs take up the post and Barry O’Donnell Chair of UKRO (CUEES) became Vice-Chair. At that event Spain intimated their desire to become WRO members.
In 2003 the World Rescue Challenge was hosted by Canada and managed by TERC Canada under the leadership of Bruce Montone Chair of TERC Canada and Alex Mac Donald also from TERC Canada the event was supported by the WRO through the work of the Secretary. The 2003 was held in the City of Ottawa which saw many international teams attend the event. At the AGM it was agreed that the 2004 challenge would be hosted by the UKRO at Plymouth Hoe England.
The UKRO hosted the 5th WRC in 2004 at the stunning location of Plymouth Hoe, although the weather was not favourable the event remained a great success.
In 2005, the WRC moved south of the equator for a second time to the beautiful city of Hamilton New Zealand. The event was hosted by ANRARA and the New Zealand National Fire Service. This event saw for the first time he introduction of a community safety element to the challenge. Several thousand children visited the event with their schools and were given safety advice.
The 2006 WRC remained in the southern hemisphere, this time locating in Durban South Africa, again the event was hosted by Rescue South Africa. Over 25 teams attended this spectacular event held under Table Mountain.
The challenge moved back to Europe in 2007, where APRAT hosted the challenge in Barcelona, Spain. This was the culmination for APRAT as they became Level 1 members of the WRO in a journey which started 2002 where they intimated that they wished to become WRO members.
Cardiff, Wales welcomed the 2008 WRC, hosted by South Wales Fire & Rescue service and the UKRO. This event saw the introduction of the first Trauma Challenge at World Level for a WRC. The Trauma challenge was well received and has grown from strength to strength over the years.
Following a late withdrawal of the 2009 host, Germany stepped up and offered to host that years WRC which was held in Frankfurt, hosted by VFDU and Frankfurt Fire Department at their training centre. Despite the short period of time to deliver the event, the event team managed to deliver a first class Challenge. The event enabled VFDU to become level 1 members of the WRO
The city of Cork was the host for the 2010 WRC, hosted by ROI and the City of Cork Fire Department. The event was held at the historic Cork docks and which saw ROI raised to level 1 members of the WRO. This event welcomed colleagues from the Russian Federation who competed at world level for the first time. This challenge saw the first visit to a WRC by Renault to attended at the invite of the WRO.
Heading south again the 2011 WRC was hosted in Auckland by ARRO and the NZFRS. The event venue was changed at the last minute from Christchurch to Auckland following the devastating Earth Quake which sadly took many lives and destroyed large parts of the city. Despite this the NZFRS and ARRO rose to the challenge and held an extremely successful event which saw some very interesting scenarios.
London opted to bid for, and won the honour of hosting the 2012 WRC which coincided with the 2012 Olympics. This event was held at the National Exhibition Centre and witnessed spectacular opening and closing ceremonies. The event also hosted, in addition to Extrication and Trauma, a USAR and Rope challenge and water rescue demonstration. Teams and officials attending the event also mingled with Klingons, Romulans and Vulcans who were attending the Star Trek convention in the hall next door to the WRC, a truly galactic challenge! At the 2012 AGM we said a fond farewell to Dave Turpin WRO treasurer and welcomed Declan Cassidy who was duly elected as the new treasurer to the WRO.
Crossing the Atlantic, the 2013 WRC was hosted in Clearwater City, Florida. The event hosted by NAVRA, saw the organisation raised to WRO level 1 member. This spectacular location welcomed 30 Extrication and 16 Trauma teams. In addition to the challenge a rope rescue demonstration took place on the bridge under which the challenge was being held. At the WRO AGM, Dave Webb stood down as WRO Chair, being replaced by Steve Apter, the then Vice Chair. The new Vice chair was confirmed as Dan Zinge.
The UK Fire Service College hosted the 2014 WRC following a last minute change in hosts. The event was supported by the UKRO. The event saw 31 Extrication and 18 Trauma teams compete. At this event during the WRO AGM the new post of Director of Operations was created with Mick Rogers being elected to the post. In addition the following posts were also created, Kevin Lennon- WRO Head Assessor, Jeff Fallow – Extrication Lead and Dr Zsolt Beres Trauma Lead.
In 2015 the World Rescue Challenge was hosted by ANSD and held in Lisboa, the event was a huge success. In 2015, the WRO said fond farewell to its Chair Steve Apter and welcomed Dan Zinge as the new Chair, also we welcomed Paul Schroeder from LRO who became our new Vice Chair. In 2015 there were quite a few membership changes which included ANSD moving from Level 2 to Level 1, the WRO welcomed three new members including France, Moldova and the Czech Republic. Our member ASUREV changed their name and at their request opted to reduce their membership from level 3 to level 4. Some further changes to the committee were as follows, Kevin Lennon – Director of Operations, Mick Gahan – WRO Head Assessor and Joao Carolino – Extrication and Standards Lead.
In 2016, the WRC was held for the first time in South America, hosted by ABRES the challenge took place in the city of Curitiba. Many teams who were not able to attend a WRC in the past from South America participated or observed the challenge. In 2016, ABRES increased its membership level from level three to level two and the WRO welcomed its newest member, Paraguay. It was agreed that France would host the 2019 WRC in the 20th year of the WRO.
The WRC 2017, saw the challenge move to Romania which was held in the beautiful city of Targu Mures, in Transylvania. At the WRO AGM this year ABRES increased its membership to Level 1 with FNSPF increasing their membership to level 2. Also this year saw the WRO welcome the Global Road Safety Partnership in becoming a member.
The challenge moved to the Sothern hemisphere again in 2018, which saw the WRC being hosted for the third time in South Africa and for the second time on Cape Town. Hosted by SAMRO the event was held in the shadow of the Athlone Stadium. Also this year the WRO saw Romania and Paraguay increase their membership levels to level 1 and Level two respectively and we welcomed a new member to the WRO family, Colombia. The 2020 WRC was awarded to NAVRA and the city of Miami Dade.