HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Coast Guard and County of Kauai agency personnel successfully completed a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Port Allen, Thursday.
The exercise simulated a multi-agency response to the report of an overdue kayaker who failed to show up to work after a morning paddle.
“Nothing builds great working relationships between partners better than exercises such as this,” said Chief Petty Officer Timothy Elhajj, the officer in charge of Coast Guard Station Kauai. “These exercises are great because they allow us to work with our counterparts in a training environment allowing us to be better prepared for real world events in the future.”
This year's Kauai SAREX took place over the past week and included planning, safety, and communication meetings, as well as a resource open house at Lihue Airport and the Coast Guard station.
“Interoperability is the name of the game and our ability to communicate quickly and coordinate and collaborate is the key to success,” said Mayor of Kauai Derek Kawakami who visited responders during the asset open house.
The full-scale open-water exercise was held Thursday and began at 9 a.m. with a simulated call from a concerned friend over an overdue paddler who was represented by a deployed blue kayak and rescue dummy whose location was unknown to the responders.
The partners set up an incident command post at Hanapepe Stadium Park and coordinated the searching assets while testing communication systems and strategies between the partners.
The search was a success with both the kayak and rescue dummy being rescued by a joint effort between the Kauai Ocean Safety Bureau and a crew from Coast Guard Station Kauai at approximately 11:30 a.m.
Assets involved in the SAREX were:
Coast Guard Sector Honolulu personnel
Coast Guard Station Kauai crewmembers
Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point aircrews
Kauai Fire Department crews
Kauai Police Department personnel
Lihue Airport Fire Department crews
Kauai Ocean Safety Bureau responders
Kauai Emergency Management Agency personnel
Civil Air Patrol pilots
Kauai K9 Search and Rescue team members
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.
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