Story by Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir
HONOLULU — The Coast Guard, Maui County Fire Department, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services, American Medical Response (AMR), and Maui County Police Department are scheduled to conduct a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Kapalua, Thursday.
“We’ve seen similar cases to the scenario we’re exercising off Maui recently. An increase in blue water diving means more people in the water farther from shore. It’s a combined effort, and we want to ensure everyone comes home,” said Lt. j.g Seth Gross, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Teamwork is vital to a successful search and rescue case, and exercises such as this allow us to strengthen our relationships with our local partners, preparing us for real situations in the future.”
This year’s SAREX will entail a coordinated response to an overdue vessel off Kapalua. It will include the deployment of floating mannequins and data marker buoys to simulate people in distress. Waterway users are requested to stay clear of the boating area involved during the exercise, designated by the presence of the mannequins, boats, and other assets. It is also requested they refrain from disturbing the mannequins.
The SAREX will last over two days and will include planning, safety and communication meetings, and a resource open house, Wednesday. The full-scale open-water exercise will occur on Thursday. An Incident Command Post will be established near DT Fleming Beach Park at 8:30 a.m. Thursday for the duration of the exercise. Access to the beach park may be temporarily limited.
Assets involved in this year’s SAREX are:
- Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center personnel
- Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew
- Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) crew
- Coast Guard Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew
- 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 Ocean Safety and Life Guard Services Jet ski operator
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.
The general public should remain vigilant and call 911 to report any possible distress situations. Coast Guard response capabilities will not be affected by the exercise.