Coast Guard, Partners Hold Annual Response Exercise off Maui

October 25, 2019, 3:42 PM HST · Updated October 26, 5:31 AM
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Coast Guard, Partners Hold Annual Response Exercise off Maui
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The Coast Guard, Maui County Fire Department, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services, Maui County Emergency Medical Services, American Medical Response, and Maui County Police Department conducted a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Kapalua, Maui, Thursday.

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    “The robust participation from our Maui partners and Coast Guard units made this exercise not only possible, but an overwhelming success. The collaboration and already strong working relationships were enhanced through the sharing of best practices to ensure real world events are well coordinated to promote responder safety and increase the probability of success while searching for those in distress,” said Cmdr. Nicholas Worst, chief of response, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.

    This year’s SAREX took place over two days and including a planning, safety and communication meeting, and a resource open house, Wednesday. The full-scale open-water exercise held Thursday. An Incident Command Post was established near DT Fleming Beach Park.

    The exercise simulated a report of an overdue recreational vessel with two people in the water a mile offshore. Partners deployed and the first person, simulated with mannequins known as Oscars, was located by the Ocean Safety Jet-ski operator and brought to shore for emergency medical services drills and an airlift by the American Medical Response helicopter. The Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin crew located the second Oscar and vectored in the Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-Medium to recover the person from the water, then transfer to the cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) before conducting a successful hoist and delivering the simulated person to EMS onshore.

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    “What we gain is everything,” said Jeff Giesea, Maui County battalion chief of Ocean Safety. “You can’t expect to respond effectively to any emergency if you don’t train for that emergency. And you can’t expect to integrate well with other agencies unless you train and practice with those other agencies.”

    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 Cutter William Hart
    Coast Guard Station Maui RB-M and 25-foot Response Boat-Small with crews
    Maui Fire Department Rescue Boat crew
    Maui Fire Department Air 1 rescue helicopter crew
    Maui Fire Department Engine Company
    Maui Police Department Emergency Ops and 911 Dispatch
    Maui County Emergency Medical Services and American Medical Response ambulance and helicopter
    Maui County Ocean Safety and Life Guard Services Jet-ski operators

    Coast Guard Sector Honolulu personnel hold SAREXs bi-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.

    “You learn each other’s capabilities and protocols, and we get a chance to figure out how better to integrate so we can be as functional as possible when something real goes down,” said Giesea.

    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.

    Partners from multiple agencies attend a resource open house during a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) at the Maui Fire Department, Oct. 23, 2019. SAREXs are designed to evaluate notification and response procedures and identify shortfalls in communication and coordination of response during SAR incidents. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

    The Coast Guard, Maui County Fire Department, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services, American Medical Response (AMR) and Maui County Police Department hold a planning meeting during a Maui Search and Rescue exercise (SAREX) at the Maui County Fire Department, Oct. 23, 2019. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu personnel hold SAREXs annually throughout the Hawaiian Islands. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

    Representatives from the Maui County Fire Department inspect a Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter during a resource open house at Kahului Airport, Oct. 23, 2019. The open house was apart of a search and rescue exercise held on Maui between partner agencies. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

    Partners attend a resource open house during a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) at the Kahului Airport, Maui, Oct. 23, 2019. The open house included the Maui Fire Department Air 1 helicopter, a Coast Guard Auxiliary airplane, an Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules and an Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 dolphin helicopter. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

    Jeff Giesea, Maui County Battalion Chief of Ocean Safety, speaks with Chief Petty Officer Ekahi Lee, officer in charge, Coast Guard Station Maui, during a planning meeting at the Maui Fire Department, Oct. 23, 2019. They were planning a multiagency search and rescue exercise being held the next day. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

    Jeff Giesea, the Maui County Battalion Chief of Ocean Safety, inspects a Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter during a resource open house at Kahului Airport, Maui, Oct. 23, 2019. The open house was apart of a Maui search and rescue exercise (SAREX) held by partner agencies. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

    Partners from different agencies attend a planning meeting at the Maui Fire Department, Oct. 23, 2019. The purpose of the meeting was to plan a coordinated search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Maui the following day. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

    Partners from the Coast Guard, Maui County Fire Department, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services, American Medical Response (AMR), and Maui County Police Department hold a discussion following a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Maui, Oct 24. 2019. The discussion allowed the different agencies to voice how they thought the exercise went and what lessons were learned. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

    The crews of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) and a Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-Medium participate in a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Maui, Oct. 24, 2019. The SAREX was held between partner agencies i to train for future responses together and build cohesive relationships. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

    The crews of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) and a Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-Medium participate in a search and rescue exercise off Maui, Oct. 24, 2019. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu personnel hold SAREXs annually throughout the Hawaiian Islands. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

    An Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew hoists a simulated medical patient from the deck of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) during a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Maui, Oct. 24, 2019. SAREXs are designed to evaluate notification and response procedures and identify shortfalls in communication and coordination of response during SAR incidents.

    A Coast Guard Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-medium crew launch during a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Maui, Oct. 24, 2019. Participating in the exercise was the Coast Guard, Maui County Fire Department, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services, American Medical Response (AMR) and Maui County Police Department. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

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