Organization of search and rescue

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The SAR system has 3 general levels of co-ordination:

·  SAR coordinators – SCs;

·  SAR mission coordinators – SMCs;

·  On-scene coordinators  - OSCs;

1)  SCs are the top level SAR managers. The responsibilities of SCs are establishing, staffing, equipping and managing the SAR system; establishing RCCs and rescue sub-centers as well as providing for SAR facilities. Each state will normally have a representative of such coordinator.

2)  SMCs: each SAR operator is carried out under the supervision of SMC. Normally this function is performed by the RCC chief. Usually operating from RCC or RSC, the SMC obtains SAR facilities, plan of SAR operation and provides overall coordination.

3)  OSCs are designated by SMC when two or more SAR facilities are working together on the same mission.  Their purpose is to coordinate the activities of all participating facilities at the scene.

When a vessel or aircraft becomes aware of SAR incident directly, it should alert the appropriate RCC or RSC. The first facility to arrive at the scene should assume OSC duties until the SMC has designated an OSC or, if necessary, SMC duties until appropriate SMC has been designated. For the maritime environment Shipmaster usually performs the OSC function.

The OSC should obtain a search action plan from the SMC via RCC or RSC as son as possible.

When developing a search plan coordinators should:

·  Establish a datum, which is the most probable position of a distressed craft or survivors, taking drift effect into account;

·  Determine the search area;

·  Select SAR facilities and equipment to be used;

·  Select a search patterns and procedures.

When the location of the search object is known within defined limits, the most effective search pattern will be EXPANDING SQARE SEARCH. Such method is used when alone vessel takes part in search or then a search facility arrives on scene in advance of the others. Such facility proceeds directly to the datum and commence an ESS.

When two or more vessels take part in search the PARALLEL SWEEP SEARCH may be the most effective pattern provided there is good visibility and sufficient search facilities are available.

Combination of these methods can be used.

There is also so called SECTOR SEARCH which is also used when alone search facility participates in search operation.

The OSC should continue the search until all reasonable hope of rescuing survivors has passed. If the OSC decides to terminate an unsuccessful search after consultation with other assisting craft and SMC he should terminate active search, advice assisting craft to proceed on passage, inform land-based authority and send a message to all ships in the area asking them to continue to keep a lookout.

It the distressed object is sighted the OSC should accept the best method for the rescue. When all rescuing actions are completed, the OSC should immediately inform all search facilities that the search is terminated. Survivors may require hospital treatment. They must be delivered o a safe place as quickly as possible. They should be questioned about the distressed craft in details soon after the rescue. Such information may be very useful for future SAR operations or for the prevention of incidents in the future. This information should be relayed to the SMC.  

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