More about Marine Resue Crew training

The World's best practice for coordinating International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) is described in the International Maritime Organization's IAMSAR Manual. The Nations of the World take on responsibility for coordination in their dedicated zone. In Australian zone, AUSSAR, a section of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), has overall SAR responsibility, but for small craft this is devolved to State based emergency response agencies and organisations.

Arrangements differ in each State, but in New South Wales the State Emergency and Rescue Management (SERM) Act, 1989 (as amended), defines 'rescue' as the safe removal of persons or domestic animals from actual or threatened danger of physical harm. Marine rescue includes the locating of vessels, in distress at sea or in sheltered waters and bringing the vessels and their occupants to safety, if that is not feasible then rescuing the occupants and bringing them to safety. In NSW, the Police Force (Marine Area Command) is the authority responsible for arranging and coordinating marine search and rescue operations for pleasure and fishing vessels at sea, unregistered aircraft, persons missing in a coastal environment, persons and vessels on inland waters and all non military vessels in port. As in other States, volunteer marine search and rescue organizations provide vital assistance to emergency management agencies at the local level.

Typically such volunteer marine search and rescue organizations provide radio safety services. They provide local Marine Radio Bases (MRB's for radio communication only), Marine Rescue Units (MRU's for tasking SAR vessels) or Search and Rescue Coordination Centres (SARCC's for SAR coordination). They also support other SAR agencies to preserve life, safety of the public, property and its members. They engage in public education for safer boating and advocate on behalf of marine rescue with authorities. They train their members to the standard required by relevant authorities. Marine rescue volunteers juggle the commitments of home and work to manage, fund and realize these aims for their local community. While some volunteers dedicate years to service, many are only briefly able to train and usefully contribute.

While reference is made to the Australian National Training Packages for Coastal Maritime Operations (commercial craft operators) and Public Safety (emergency service operators) no global suit of skills fits all. This site approaches training from bottom up, starting at MRU initial risk mitigation before advancing through a safety management system (SMS) to national certification that is compliant to the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF). It suggests a methodolgy with example resources for in service trainers to focus on emergency risk management, competence by priority and ultimate inter service continuity (promoting standard operating procedures, SOPs). It does not speak for other SAR agencies and organisations that have existing training programs leading to rank and responsibility. Those programs must be addressed by trainers and trainees.

For participation in operations, three stages of readiness can be identified:

• Preparedness through fitness, initial induction & safety training.

(safe to engage in operational training level)

Volunteers are recruited from many demographs including young persons yet to take on starting a young family and those retired or no longer in full time employment. They are a rare and valued asset particularly in lowly populated rural areas. High fitness and prerequisite literacy/numeracy expectations that are unduly restrictive can starve an organisation of recruits. However Workplace Health and Safety duty of care remains a responsibility of all levels of management. Ensuring effective implementation falls heavily on the immediate supervisors in a particular workplace. The initial induction will ensure MRU crews are trained to deal with the workplace hazards including fitness to swim an appropriate distance, exposure, survival on sinking, engage in their tasked vessel's operations and emergencies (SMS), apply SOP's and use communication equipment. The generic pre sea skills set of STCW95 or training packages are not focussed on locality specific marine rescue operations (that by their nature are unique), so initial training will have to address the gaps to meet the workplace duty of care. Similarly, for MRB's and SARCC's both the unique physical hazards of the workplace (access, fatigue and risk of electrocution) in addition to radio base policy and operations will need to be addressed at initial training.

• Trained to operate for local priorities, responsibilities & risks.

(assist or supervise in local operations level)

The Australian SAR zone encompasses the Southern Ocean to the Tropics. Local MRU's and SARCC's operate in diverse conditions; from the country's busiest harbours, over treacherous river bars, off storm beaches, along remote coastlines and in alpine lakes and inland watercourses. Local knowledge and skill to address local priorities are their greatest strength along with strategically placed assets suitable for the task, including vehicles, aircraft, PWCs, IRB's, RIB's and displacement craft.

A thorough training in ships lights and buoyage will be of high priority to rescue squads based in busy commercial ports but less pressing for squads operating RIB's over river bars or in IRB's off storm beaches.The second thrust of training should stem from a risk assessed job description addressing the local squads priority operations.

• Competent to National Standards to engage at a determined rank.

(supervise or manage any operations level)

The final goal of training is to meet nationally consistent competencies, as described by rank, to enable seamless flexibility when Volunteer Marine SAR operators are needed to cooperate in inter service operations, disaster or National emergencies.This concept approach to planning training is demonstrated in the layered cake, built with a solid base and decorated with icing on the top.

Please Note - This web site is for information only, is not endorsed and does not speak for SAR agencies and organisations that have existing training programs leading to their organisations ranks and responsibility. Those programs by approved SAR agencies must be followed by trainers and trainees.

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