If you see police poking around the bushes or boating off the Tweed coast on the weekend, it’s likely they aren’t on a major mission but part of a training exercise.
NSW Police’s Marine Area Command will host the major search and rescue training exercise in Tweed Heads this weekend, which they say, ‘will deliver practical and enhanced skills for police and volunteers involved in marine search and rescue’.
Other agencies involved include Queensland Police, Volunteer Marine Rescue and Surf Live Saving NSW and Queensland.
On Saturday, the more than 80 participants will brush up on search and rescue theory, with tutorials by personnel from Police, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), Surf Life Saving NSW and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. Attendees will also conduct a number of desktop exercises.
Weather permitting, the group will then put the theory into practice on Sunday, with a live search and rescue exercise up to ten nautical miles off the NSW-Qld border.
This exercise will involve up to 10 vessels taking part in a coordinated grid search for missing mannequins masquerading as people.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter will also be in the area for the weekend, and will assist during the exercise by locating the missing ‘people’ from the air, while also conducting winching practice and recovery operations from rocks.
NSW Police Marine area commander, superintendent Mark Hutchings, said the exercise was ‘essential for a professional and coordinated rescue response.’
‘As the responsible agency for maritime search and rescue in NSW, the Marine Area Command is committed to providing expert training to all agencies that patrol the state’s coastline and across the border,’ supt Hutchings said.
‘Not only do these exercises further hone marine rescue skills, they also help maintain the excellent relationships between agencies and between states.
Marine Area Command’s Search and Rescue Coordinator, Sergeant Paul Farquharson, said this SAREX is part of an annual training program designed to educate and test relevant agencies.
‘This weekend’s SAREX is one in a series of exercises held along the coastline each year to fine-tune all rescue agencies’ search skills and bolster our response to marine incidents in NSW,’ Sgt Farquharson said.