Responders Conclude Successful Search and Rescue Exercise in Saipan > US Indo-Pacific Command > 2015

SANTA RITA, Guam — U.S. Coast Guard and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) partners successfully concluded a two-day Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) in Saipan on August 24.

“There were 40 CNMI participants from six CNMI agencies and eight Coast Guard members. The excellent participation, support and free exchange of experiences and ideas contributed to the success of the undertaking,” said the Lt. Henry Dunphy, Chief of Emergency Management and Force Preparedness. to U.S. Coast Guard Forces in the Micronesia/Guam sector.

This year’s SAREX simulated a response to a capsized kayak off Tanapag Harbour. Participants held table discussions on planning, safety and communications on Tuesday, followed by research patterns and offshore boat handling on Wednesday in the harbor. Partners from CNMI’s Department of Fire and Emergency Management Services, the Commonwealth Ports Authority, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Environmental Quality all provided boats for the activity on the water.

Other participants included Joint Rescue Sub-Center and response personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam, personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security Detachment Saipan, Homeland Security and emergency management, as well as customs and biosecurity personnel.

“Exercises like this are a great opportunity to train together, learn from each other, and build relationships with a wide range of public safety agencies. Our goal is to continually improve the way we work together and involve the whole community, because in a search and rescue situation, an effective response can potentially mean the difference between life and death,” Dunphy said.

Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam holds SAREX in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Compact of Free Association states. They assess notification and response procedures and identify gaps in communication and response coordination during SAR incidents. Each agency has individual capabilities that complement the efforts of the other and enhance the overall success of the SAR system.

The recent medical evacuation of a 50-year-old man from the uninhabited island of Agrihan 245 miles from Saipan by the crew of USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) brought together responders in Guam and Saipan and highlights the importance of partnerships in these search and rescue exercises and of regional relationships in the service of the peoples of the Pacific.

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Brandon D. James