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Search & Rescue Organisations Make Stronger Links

Search and Rescue Organisations Make Stronger Links

New Zealand’s search and rescue organisations have signed an agreement to work more closely together as part of moves to strengthen the search and rescue sector.

The joint Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the government agencies; New Zealand Search and Rescue Council (NZSAR Council), New Zealand Police and the Rescue Coordination Centre, and two voluntary organisations; Coastguard NZ and LandSAR NZ, brings the groups together in a formal relationship for the first time.

NZSAR Secretariat Manager, Duncan Ferner, says the organisations often work together on search and rescue operations but the formalising of the relationships means they will have a more coordinated approach.

He paid tribute to the significant contribution the approximately 4,500 LandSAR NZ and Coastguard NZ search and rescue volunteers make in and around New Zealand.

“As an example of the volunteer effort, in 2006/07 Coastguard volunteers spent over 20,000 hours on SAR operations, 60,000 hours on training and prevention and responded to Police requests for assistance on more than 460 occasions. LandSAR was called out for 224 SAR operations involving more than 1800 LandSAR members and nearly 17,000 volunteer hours.

Coastguard NZ’s President, Ian Coard says “Coastguard NZ is delighted by the allocation of funds being invested into the Marine Search and Rescue activity undertaken by our people. These funds are vital to ensuring our vessels can respond quickly to Search and Rescue incidents around New Zealand.

“This agreement changes the dynamic of the relationship with our Government SAR partners and we believe will lead to an even closer relationship through the formalising the role of Coastguard plays in Marine Search and Rescue.”

Mr Coard says the funding will assist in sustaining Coastguard’s ability to respond to search and rescue incidents, with these making up 13% of the events attended by Coastguard unpaid professionals every year.

LandSAR NZ Executive Director, John Scobie says, the funding LandSAR received as part of the agreement goes some way towards ensuring volunteers continue to provide a safety net when trips into the wilderness don’t go as planned.

“Our volunteers give up their own time to assist in search and rescues and sometimes they also need to spend time fundraising to pay for their own training. This money will help ease some of that burden on individuals and help us retain our membership across the country,” says Mr Scobie.


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