Pacific leaders strengthen search and rescue
21 May 2017 (10:00 am)
Pacific search and rescue leaders are meeting in Auckland (May 22-26) to strengthen search and rescue (SAR) across the region and save lives.
Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch, who opens the conference on Monday, says it’s the first time New Zealand has hosted the Pacific SAR conference and he’s looking forward to meeting some of the 100 people from the 26 countries that are attending.
“We’re proud of the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ’s work throughout the Pacific helping to develop search and rescue capability and coordinating dozens of life-saving rescue missions with other agencies,” he said.
RCCNZ Manager Mike Hill said the Pacific region’s search and rescue agencies have to deal with the challenges of finding and rescuing people in what is the world’s biggest ocean.
“Management skills – like setting the search area, gathering information about the missing vessel and people and their last known movements – are key to life-saving rescues.”
“The focus of the conference is about improving regional and national collaboration and coordination with the ultimate goal to save lives in the Pacific,” says Thierry Nervale, the Deputy Director Transport of the Pacific Community – the organisation that supports development across the region.
Pacific SAR leaders and practitioners will build relationships, learn from each other, hear about new technology and share the best practice search and rescue techniques.
The conference is a cornerstone of a wider work programme led by the PACSAR Steering Committee – a collective of five nations (Australia, Fiji, France, New Zealand and the United States) to build capability and cooperation across the region.
Under PACSAR, RCCNZ has visited Pacific islands to help with planning and upskilling local search and rescue staff.
On Monday, each country will give an overview of SAR work in their area. On Tuesday, Pacific search and rescue capability strategy will be discussed. On Wednesday, from 2.30 pm there will be a dramatic “rescue” off Mechanics Bay simulating a sinking boat firing flares, a US Coastguard C-130 Hercules dropping a life raft, and an Auckland Rescue Helicopter winching a person from the water.