Coffs Harbour Marine Rescue attend successful Search and Rescue Exercise held at Ballina

The two-day event had an on water focus on Saturday while information sessions were held on Sunday.

MORE than 100 Marine Rescue NSW volunteers from the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast teamed up with NSW Police Marine Area Command and other agencies for a major Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) at Ballina over the weekend.

The two-day event had an on water focus on Saturday while information sessions were held on Sunday.

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Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Alex Barrell said Marine Rescue members from Point Danger, Brunswick, Ballina, Evans Head, Iluka Yamba, Wooli, Coffs Harbour and Crowdy Harrington took part in the important training exercise where the scenario involved a simulated overturned fifteen metre fishing trawler with four crew (targets) unaccounted for in waters off Ballina.

“This weekend, we’ve seen over 100 volunteers from our Marine Rescue units, Surf Life Saving, Australian Maritime Safety Authority and New South Wales Police come together here in Ballina to hone their search and rescue skills and undertake an opportunity to come together and really practice what we do on the water.

“It is such an important day and weekend on our training calendar.

“It is wonderful to see all our volunteers come together from all the units and exercise their skills,” Commissioner Barrell said.

Marine Area Command Sergeant Ryan Spong coordinated the SAREX and said representatives from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority also provided input into the exercise.

“These exercises are really valuable for the members involved to get some real-time practical search and rescue experience,” Sergeant Spong said.

Effective search patterns were employed and all four training targets were located and retrieved in a timely manner.

Marine Rescue Ballina volunteer Sharon Clark said the teamwork showed by all involved in the SAREX was exceptional.

“It was really interesting and a great learning curve.

“The fact that we don’t do multiple rescues in the bases at any one time and we’ve had to do that today has been fantastic training for all of us,” she said.

Two more regional SAREXs will be held over the coming months on the Hunter/Central Coast and at Batemans Bay.

Marine Rescue NSW is a volunteer based not-for-profit professional organisation dedicated to keeping boaters safe on the water and supporting local communities.

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