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News & Media

  • Joint exercise challenge for marine search and rescue experts
  • November 20, 2014

Photo: Marine Rescue NSW vessel Wooli 30 in the 2013 Northern Rivers SAREX.

Marine search and rescue personnel from across the Northern Rivers will test their skills at the region’s annual joint-agency Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) at Ballina this weekend (November 22 and 23).

The exercise will conclude in a search for several rescue dummies dropped in the ocean on Sunday morning.

Up to 50 volunteers from seven Marine Rescue NSW units - Point Danger, Brunswick, Cape Byron, Ballina, Evans Head, Iluka-Yamba and Wooli - will assemble for the theoretical and planning program on Saturday and practical on-water exercises on Sunday.

They will be joined by personnel from the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command, Royal Australian Navy, Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Surf Life Saving Australia.

MRNSW Deputy Commissioner Dean Storey said the SAREX was one of a regular series of exercises staged each year to hone crews’ expertise and test agencies’ rescue coordination procedures.

“This exercise, the final one for 2014, is an integral component of our Northern Rivers units’ annual training program,” he said.

Five MRNSW vessels, along with the police boat, Fearless, Ballina Jet Boat and Jet ski, and Navy and Westpac helicopters will take part.

Saturday’s tabletop exercises and theory sessions will be held at the Ballina Surf Club. Demonstrations by the Navy and Westpac helicopter crews will provide first-hand experience in complex helicopter search techniques.

Sunday’s exercise will give the crews the opportunity to put the essential search theory covered the previous day into practice.

Vessels from the Marine Rescue Ballina, Evans Head, Point Danger, Wooli and Brunswick units, along with Fearless and the Ballina Jet Boat and Jet ski, will join the offshore exercise, searching for rescue dummies dropped in pre-determined positions by the two helicopters.

Members of the public will get excellent views of the offshore exercise from the car park north of the Ballina Surf Club and the Richmond River breakwalls.

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