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NEWS | Aug. 25, 2022

Responders Conclude Successful Search and Rescue Exercise in Saipan

By Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

SANTA RITA, Guam -- The U.S. Coast Guard and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana (CNMI) Islands partners concluded a successful two-day search and rescue exercise (SAREX) in Saipan, Aug. 24.

"There were 40 CNMI participants from six CNMI agencies and eight Coast Guard members. The excellent participation, support, and free exchange of experience and ideas made for a successful endeavor,” said Lt. Henry Dunphy, the chief of emergency management and force readiness at U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam.

This year’s SAREX simulated a response to a capsized kayak off Tanapag Harbor. Participants conducted tabletop discussions on planning, safety, and communications Tuesday followed by search patterns and boat handling offshore on Wednesday in the harbor. Partners from the CNMI Department of Fire and Emergency Management Services, Commonwealth Port Authority, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Environmental Quality all provided boats for the on-water activity.

Additional participants included, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam Joint Rescue Sub-Center and response personnel, U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Saipan personnel, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Customs and Biosecurity personnel.

“Exercises like this are a great opportunity to train together, learn from each, and build relationships across a wide spectrum of public safety agencies. Our goal is to continuously improve the way we work together and engage the whole community, because in a search and rescue situation, an efficient response has the potential to mean the difference between life and death,” said Dunphy.

Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam holds SAREXs in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Compact of Free Association states. They 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 recent medical evacuation of 50-year-old man from the uninhabited island of Agrihan 245 miles to Saipan by the USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) crew brought together responders in Guam and Saipan and emphasizes the importance of partnerships in these search and rescue exercises and regional relationships to serve the people of the Pacific.

For more U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam news visit us on DVIDS or subscribe! You can also visit us on Facebook at @USCGSectorGuam.

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