Don't be alarmed by search lights
IF YOU see an abundance of search lights and rescue vessels on the water next weekend, don't be alarmed, it's only a training exercise for our water emergency front line.
Starting at 6am on Saturday July 21, Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsunday in conjunction with the Whitsunday Water Police will host the annual VMR Northern Zone joint search and rescue exercise (SAREX) in the Whitsundays.
The VMR squads and the local SES will participate while the Whitsunday Water Police have organised the exercises which be held until lunchtime on Sunday.
VMR spokesperson Sharon McLean said that these types of joint exercises were a vital training tool to enhance the skills and abilities of the volunteers within the VMR organisation and the members of the Water Police.
"It also provides emergency preparedness in the event of an emergency at sea, with the two agencies being able to work confidently together,” she said.
"We ask that members of the public do not get concerned if they see rescue vessels, and Whitsunday Water Police conducting searches in the Whitsunday waters, that it is just a training exercise.
"We would like to thank VMR Whitsunday for hosting this year's event.”
Local SES will also complete a training foot search of one of the Whitsunday islands.
Whitsunday Water Police Senior Constable Adrian Fitzpatrick said that the exercise will provide skills maintenance and learning for SAR trained Police Officers within the district.
"These SAREX's also achieve a close working relationship between the Police coordinators and the volunteer groups,” he said.
"The exercise gives us the chance to create and co-ordinate a realistic search and rescue exercise to assess the search and rescue response of local resources and the ability of volunteer SAR groups and Police SARO's to work together and complete search tasks effectively,” he said.
"It also provides an effective way to improve SAR response and efficiency.
"All boaties are requested to minimise their radio use on channels 81 and 16 as these channels will be used.”
A night exercise will be held on Saturday night involving the use of Flir equipment (thermal imaging) and spotlight searches.
The Whitsunday Water Police will provide the exercise scenarios to the Rescue vessel skippers at a briefing prior to the exercises.
Areas that will be covered in the exercises include the Molle Channel from North Molle to the southern end of Long Island and possible parts of the Whitsunday Passage on the eastern side of these islands, as well as parts of Pioneer Bay and Funnel Bay.
VMR Whitsunday radio room will be the coordination centre for the Sarex.
WHAT: Search and rescue exercise
WHEN: July 21-22
WHERE: Whitsunday waters and islands