More than 100 Marine Rescue NSW volunteers and staff from units across the Monaro and Illawarra regions will take part in a major regional Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) at Batemans Bay this weekend (September 16-17).
Marine Rescue NSW Southern Zone Commander, Mike Hammond, said the annual exercise will be coordinated by Marine Area Command and involve other agencies including Surf Life Saving NSW.
“We do this to practice our search and rescue skills and to make sure that we’re using the best possible techniques and learning from real incidents we’ve experienced over the course of the year,” he said.
Zone Commander Hammond said the Batemans Bay SAREX is a crucial training exercise to ensure Marine Rescue NSW volunteers are rescue ready with the on-water component to be held on Saturday morning when a search and rescue scenario is presented by Marine Area Command.
“The scenarios are realistic partly because they are based on real events and rescues that we have performed,” Hammond said.
“Sometimes they are modified with different lessons from different incidents combined,” he continued.
“A lot of time is taken to make sure that they are as realistic as possible so that we really test our capability and provide the opportunity for learning and growth.”
The Southern Zone Commander said the intention at Batemans Bay this weekend is to hold the on-water component offshore.
“It’s important that we exercise in the types of conditions we’re likely to experience in a real search, so unless it’s really, really bad weather, we’d be out offshore,” Hammond said.
Saturday’s Search and Rescue exercise will involve almost 70 Marine Rescue NSW volunteers, nine Marine Rescue NSW vessels and two Rescue Water Craft.
The Batemans Bay, Narooma, Bermagui, Merimbula and Tuross Moruya units will all contribute vessels. Two Rescue Water Craft from Tuross Moruya will also be involved.
Marine Rescue NSW volunteers from the Illawarra region’s Ulladulla and Kioloa units will also take part in the SAREX with Ulladulla 30 and Kioloa 20 joining the fleet along with a Water Police vessel and IRB’s and jet skis from Surf Life Saving NSW.
A desktop Search and Rescue exercise will also be held involving 26 Marine Rescue NSW volunteers.
Southern Zone Commander Hammond said thorough planning has been done to make this weekend’s event a reality.
“They’re (Search and Rescue exercises) really worthwhile in testing our ability to coordinate lots of resources, lots of people, different agencies and to deal with scenarios that evolve over time.
“It’s not just a simple scenario where we go out and deal with one thing, it usually evolves over the course of the exercise to bring in different variables and that really tests out our capabilities,” he said.
Images: Marine Rescue NSW