The NSW Police Force Marine Area Command will host a major search and rescue training exercise on the Far South Coast this weekend.
The two-day exercise at Bermagui on Saturday and Sunday, November 25-26 will deliver practical and enhanced skills for police and volunteers involved in marine search and rescue, ahead of the upcoming Sydney to Hobart yacht race and the summer recreational boating season.
Bermagui and Narooma regularly host these multi-agency SAREX or search and rescue exercises in the lead up to summer
In addition to NSW Police, agencies involved in the exercise include Marine Rescue NSW, Surf Live Saving NSW, Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
More than 80 participants will take part in a search and rescue theory lesson on Saturday, with tutorials from police, AMSA, Surf Life Saving NSW and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.
The group will then put the theory into practice on Sunday with a “live” search and rescue exercise up to 10 nautical miles off the NSW Far South Coast.
This part of the exercise will involve up to 10 vessels taking part in a coordinated grid search for missing “people”, actually mannequins.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter and the new Challenger jet from AMSA will also be in the area for the weekend and will assist during the exercise by locating the missing “people” from the air, while also conducting winching practice and recovery operations from rocks.
NSW Police Marine Area Commander, Detective Superintendent Mark Hutchings, said these exercises are essential for a professional and coordinated rescue response.
“As the responsible agency for maritime search and rescue in NSW, the Marine Area Command is committed to providing expert training to all agencies that patrol the state’s coastline and across the border,” Det Supt Hutchings said.
“Not only do these exercises further hone marine rescue skills, they also help maintain the excellent relationships between agencies and between states. I would like to thank all marine rescue agencies and volunteers for their continued hard work and commitment to saving lives at sea.”
Marine Area Command’s search and rescue coordinator, Sergeant Paul Farquharson said the exercise was part of an annual training program designed to educate and test relevant agencies.
“This weekend’s search and rescue exercise is one in a series held along the coastline each year to fine tune all rescue agencies’ search skills and bolster our response to marine incidents in NSW,” Sgt Farquharson said.
“Standing rescue arrangements allow agencies to work together seamlessly to coordinate the rescue operation, providing the greatest chance of quickly and safely finding someone in trouble in the water.
“These exercises help ensure that all personnel from relevant agencies – from those planning to those actively engaged in the search on the water – are familiar with their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency.”