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Tauranga – Aotearoa search and rescue (SAR) organisations from around the country will gather in Mount Maunganui for the annual Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) summit this weekend.

The summit will test the various capabilities of SLSNZ to deploy inflatable rescue boats (IRBs) and surf lifeguards to remote locations.

Supported by the wider search and rescue sector, including LandSAR, Coastguard, Harbourmaster, New Zealand police, and fire and emergency New Zealand, the summit will bring together 30 of SLSNZ’s top SAR co-ordinators and senior SAR squad team members.

Over the course of three days, these organisations will focus on conducting operational reviews, improving interagency collaboration in the field, and strengthening critical emergency communications.

The highlight of the summit will be a Maritime SAR exercise on May 20.  The exercise, a large-scale water-based hide and seek simulation based on actual life incidents, will challenge all SAR crews to work together to recover all the patients and return to base safely.

Up to 24 SAR vessels from three SAR agencies and about 70 personnel could be on the water at the height of the exercise, covering an area of operation from Mount Maunganui to Maketu Beach and out to Mōtītī Island.

Multi-agency training for multi-casualty operations in the marine environment enables different agencies to work together more effectively. 

It helps improve communication, coordination, and collaboration, ultimately leading to a better response and improved outcomes for those involved.

Additionally, the marine environment presents unique challenges and risks that require specialised training and equipment, making multi-agency training even more critical.

During the course of the exercise, if members of the public are concerned that someone is in trouble in the area, they should still call 111 and ask for Police.