The Coast Guard, Maui County Fire Department, Maui County Police Department, Maui County Emergency Medical Services, American Medical Response, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services conducted a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Kapalua, Maui, Thursday.
”The purpose is to continue building and improving operational cohesion between other agencies and the Coast Guard,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Malia Chasteen, officer in charge of Coast Guard Station Maui. “Holding these annual exercises builds and bolsters strong relationships which enhance communication and hone best practices to ensure real world events are well coordinated to increase the probability of success while searching for those in distress.”
The response exercise took place over two days and included a planning, safety and communication meeting, and a resource open house, Wednesday. The full-scale open-water exercise was held Thursday where an Incident Command Post was established near Olowalu Beach Park.
The exercise simulated a report of an overdue kayaker a mile offshore. Partners deployed their assets and the kayaker was located by an Ocean Safety jet-ski operator who brought them to shore for emergency medical services drills.
“This opportunity to learn each other’s capabilities and protocols is invaluable,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Chadwick Kyffin, training petty officer for Station Maui. “We get a chance to figure out how to better integrate so we can be as functional as possible when something real goes down.”
Assets involved in this year’s SAREX:
Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center personnel
Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point Dolphin helicopter and HC-130 Hercules with aircrews
Coast Guard Station Maui RB-M and 25-foot Response Boat-Small with crews
Maui Fire Department
Maui Police Department
Maui County Emergency Medical Services
Maui County Ocean Safety and Life Guard Services Jet-ski operators
Coast Guard Sector Honolulu personnel hold SAREXs annually throughout the Hawaiian Islands. They are designed to evaluate notification and response procedures and identify shortfalls in communication and coordination of response during SAR incidents. Each agency holds individual capabilities that complement each other’s efforts and bolsters the overall success of the SAR system. Familiarity with processes and the people involved are critical to success.
The goals of the Coast Guard search and rescue program are to minimize loss of life, injury, and property loss and damage in the maritime environment, minimize the risk to responders, optimize the use of resources, and remain a world leader in maritime SAR experience and effectiveness.