Coastguard NZ Coastguard NZ CREDIT: Coastguard NZ

West Coast volunteers to be tested by search & rescue exercise

Friday 30 September 2011, 9:20AM


Coastguard volunteers from the South Island’s West Coast, along with other Search and Rescue agencies in the region, are joining together to put their skills to the test during a full-scale Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) this Sunday.

The exercise, code named ‘Tawhiri’ (Maori God of Wind and Storm), involves volunteers from four charitable search and rescue agencies along with the New Zealand Police, responding to a ‘true to life’ marine emergency.

An integral part of the “one SAR” philosophy promoted by the NZ Search and Rescue Secretariat, the SAREX exercise involving volunteers from Coastguard’s Greymouth and Lake Brunner units, will be coordinated with New Zealand Police, Surf Lifesaving New Zealand and Land SAR.

Coastguard volunteers will need to expect the unexpected when they are paged for help this Sunday as they could find themselves assisting any number of incidents faced by Coastguard on a regular basis. All influential elements including weather conditions, witness reports and communication mediums will come into play.

Simulating an emergency rescue as realistic as possible, the SAREX provides Coastguard volunteers with an opportunity to practise their skills and refresh their incident management knowledge while identifying any areas that need further development.

Mark Whitehouse, Exercise Director for the SAREX, says the aim of the SAREX is to get everyone working together so that when a real emergency happens they have the best chance of saving lives at sea, working together as one search and rescue team.

“The more Coastguard and other agencies practice together, the more it becomes second nature to our volunteers to respond effectively in a real emergency. When someone is in trouble, we want to instinctively put into practice all our skills and knowledge to save lives at sea.

“The SAREX provides volunteers with a hands-on experience which will ultimately prepare them even better than before for real-time marine search and rescues,” says Whitehouse.

Search & Rescue Exercise (SAREX) – Tawhiri (Maori God of Wind & Storm)
When: Sunday AM, 2 October 2011
Where: West Coast area