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Search and Rescue Clarifies Coordination Roles

Search and Rescue Council Clarifies Coordination Roles

The New Zealand Search and Rescue Council (NZSAR) has released new Search and Rescue definitions aimed at improving search and rescue coordination in New Zealand.

Two new categories, which will take over from the old Class II and Class III terms, were defined by the NZSAR Council in consultation with the NZ Police, Rescue Coordination New Zealand (RCCNZ) and the wider SAR sector.

NZSAR Secretariat Manager Duncan Ferner says the new definitions provide greater clarification of the overall responsibility for Search and Rescue Operations (SAROP) throughout New Zealand’s vast search and rescue region.

“We are responsible for SAR throughout New Zealand as well as 30 million square kms of sea. We rely heavily on the Police and RCCNZ to organise and manage some very complex incidents at any given time. These new categories give them clearer areas of responsibility ensuring they have a steady platform to coordinate from.”

The new definitions, Category I SAROP and Category II SAROP came into effect on July 1.

Category I SAROPs are coordinated at the local level including land, river, lake, and close to shore marine operations. The Police are responsible for this category. A typical example is an overdue group of fishing mates in a family runabout, within 12 nautical miles of the coast or an overdue tramping party.

Category II SAROPs are coordinated at the national level including missing aircraft, aircraft in distress and offshore marine operations. RCCNZ is responsible for this category. For example an aircraft reported overdue on its planned landing time or an offshore yacht which has activated its 406 MHz emergency distress beacon.

Police National SAR Coordinator, Senior Sergeant Geoff Logan says tidying up the definitions means the thousands of people involved in SAR have a clearer understanding of responsibilities “which will lead to a smoother, more effective, efficient response.”

RCCNZ Group Manager Nigel Clifford says for many years NZ Police and RCCNZ have worked closely together to coordinate and manage SAROPs in New Zealand. “These revised definitions allow us to clear up some of the grey areas arising from the long-standing historical terms and build for the future, he says.


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