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Search and Rescue exercise at Batemans Bay tests skills of Marine Rescue NSW volunteers

Over 100 Marine Rescue NSW volunteers and staff from the Monaro and Illawarra regions teamed up with NSW Police Marine Area Command and Surf Life Saving NSW for a major Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) at Batemans Bay over the weekend.

The SAREX scenario was held to test rescuers capability, multi-agency teamwork and communication in responding to a simulated emergency situation in offshore conditions.

Sergeant Russel Agland from Marine Area Command said the weekend’s training scenario involved an overturned vessel located east of Point Upright.

“A Water Police vessel, WP25 was deployed offshore to investigate whereupon it was ascertained there were four missing persons.

“There were two search areas, with assets divided equally across those search areas running grid search patterns looking for the people.

The emergency response scenario involved nine Marine Rescue NSW vessels from Batemans Bay, Kioloa, Ulladulla, Narooma, Bermagui, Merimbula and Tuross Moruya, two Marine Rescue NSW rescue water craft (RWC) along with IRB and RWC assets from Surf Life Saving NSW, Water Police vessel and a Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

Marine Rescue NSW Zone Commander Mike Hammond said members of the multi-agency response used their skills and experience to locate the targets swiftly.

“The outcome was successful, we had mannequins at sea that our crews had to find, and they’ve done that.

“They ran really tight, good grid pattern searches, which is what we train them to do.

“It’s been a really successful day in terms of the communication between vessels and between agencies as well.

Marine Rescue NSW Inspector Hammond said while the on-water exercise was taking place, over 25 other Marine Rescue NSW Radio Operators and staff participated in a Search and Rescue Desktop Exercise.

“We’ve had a great exercise with a number of vessels out on the water and quite a few members involved in a desktop exercise.

“These exercises are really important to developing our members’ skills and it gives them the opportunity to address any gaps in their knowledge and ask questions in a simulated exercise, rather than when there is a real incident unfolding.

“It’s a great opportunity to make sure when that day comes, we’re ready for it,” said Inspector Hammond.

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