Marine Rescue units undertake Search and Rescue Exercise

Marine Rescue members involved in the organised Search and Rescue Exercise hosted by Coffs Harbour Marine Rescue.

MARINE Rescue hosted a Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) involving units from Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga, Wooli and Nambucca on Saturday 6 May.

The SAREX is designed to test agencies’ marine search and rescue practices and coordination.

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Saturday’s program saw units from Wooli, Woolgoolga, Coffs Harbour and Nambucca working together with Marine Area Command Police from Coffs Harbour in an offshore exercise simulating an accident off the coast, supported by the RFS helicopter.

Jane Leach, Unit Commander Marine Rescue Coffs Harbour told News Of The Area, “Marine Rescue Coffs Harbour is sometimes called upon to handle an emergency situation where a swimmer, rock fisherman or boater goes missing in the water.

“This requires a co-ordinated and speedy response with other Marine Rescue Units and agencies so that together we can cover a large search area as quickly as possible to try to recover the missing person.

“New hand-held radios were tested, and live footage obtained from our vessel Shearwater, but the main purpose of this exercise was to give boat crews, radio operators and navigators the chance to brush up their search and rescue skills and cooperate with the Coffs Coast Water Police and Rural Fire Service to ensure all are able to operate together seamlessly when called upon to deal with a real emergency.

“Following a briefing of Marine Rescue, Water Police and Helicopter crews, participants departed to search for two targets which had been dropped off the coast.

“The targets were located after around 1.5 hours.

“A debrief following the exercise provided the opportunity to determine what areas of our operations went well and what could be improved,” she said.

Mal Jeffs, Marine Rescue NSW Northern Zone Commander said, “The exercise offers valuable experience; it’s a great opportunity to learn and reinforce the knowledge that we gain in theory.

“So, when accidents do happen of this nature, we are able to come together with other emergency services and get good outcomes for the community.”

“The exercise was a great opportunity for our resources to work together,” said Mal.

Gary Nichols, Unit Commander, Marine Rescue Nambucca, said, “Marine Rescue Nambucca is here to develop a working program with our fellow units working on the Mid North Coast.

“We believe it’s essential to keep this working relationship going to make us more efficient in search and rescue.”

Practicing rescue scenarios such as the SAREX means that when there is a real-life situation that needs to be dealt with, then everybody is ready and prepared, and they put into practice what they have learned in theory.

Marine Rescue NSW has recorded a record number of rescues over the 2022/23 boating season.

Across the state from the Tweed to Eden and on the inland waterways of the Alpine Lakes and at Moama, Marine Rescue NSW volunteers were involved in a record 3,263 rescue missions during the most recent ‘boating season’ from October 1, 2022 to ANZAC Day 2023.

For this period Coffs Harbour Marine Rescue was the third busiest on the Mid North Coast making 39 rescues.

Marine Rescue urged boat users to check and prepare their vessels before setting out to sea as some 57 percent of rescue missions were for engine problems, flat batteries or fuel issues.


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