Rescues off Broken Bay to test skills this weekend

Exercises this weekend: Broken Bay 30 (L) and Middle Harbour 30
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Sydney boaters should watch out for rescues taking place off Broken Bay this weekend. It's not that we expect a monster storm - it will be rescue personnel putting their search skills to the test.

Rescue specialists from across Sydney and the Central Coast will take to the water off Broken Bay this weekend (March 2 and 3) in a major marine Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX).

The exercise will include a multiple vessel search for two rescue dummies dropped in the ocean, helicopter winching practice and patient recovery operations from rocks.

Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos said almost 60 volunteers and seven rescue vessels from 10 MRNSW units would take part in two days of theory and practical exercises.

Volunteers from Marine Rescue’s Broken Bay, Middle Harbour, Cottage Point, Port Jackson, Hawkesbury, Port Hacking, Botany Bay, Terrey Hills, Central Coast and Terrigal units will join other agencies for the event.

Others taking part include members of the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command, NSW Ambulance Service, Surf Life Saving Australia, Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and a Royal Australian Navy helicopter crew.

'This SAREX is a major component of this year’s training program for volunteers in the Sydney and Central Coast regions,' Commissioner Tannos said.

'It is one of a series of exercises held along the coastline each year to hone rescue teams’ marine search skills and bolster our rescue capability.

'Standing rescue arrangements are in place to allow agencies to work seamlessly together to coordinate a rescue operation, providing the greatest chance of finding someone in trouble in the water quickly and safely.

'These exercises help ensure that personnel in all relevant agencies, from those plotting the search pattern to those actively engaged in the search on the water, are familiar with their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency.'

The crews will spend Saturday at the Pittwater RSL Club, completing theoretical sessions and desktop exercises before heading out to sea, two to 10 nautical miles off Broken Bay, to put the theory to the test on Sunday.

The practical exercise will simulate a multiple-agency emergency operation, with all vessels taking part in a coordinated grid search for the two rescue dummies dropped in the ocean by helicopter. The Police vessel Nemesis will take on-scene command of this operation.

Winching exercises will be conducted using the two helicopters and patient recovery exercises from rocks near surf will test coordination of MRNSW vessels and Surf Life Saving inflatable boats.

So don't be alarmed, and give them an encouraging wave if you see them