Issues, challenges and opportunities in SAR discussed

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Mr Patrick Holmes, CEO Coastguard NZ

The 2016 Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference (ANZSAR); Land, Sea & Air took place last week at Jupiter’s Gold Coast following the 5th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference (ANZDMC); Earth, Fire and Rain.

Opening with a fascinating Keynote presentation from Dr Paul Luckin AM, Medical Consultant, SAR Training Australia on time frames for survival in SAR, Dr Luckin talked about how to assess time frames based on the last food and drink, prevailing weather conditions, clothing and a missing persons’ emotional and mental state.

He discussed the serious effects of fluid deprivation and how it can cause irrational behaviour and psychosis, and how survivability also depends on a persons’ physical characteristics.

Dr Jane Shakespeare-Finch, Associate Professor School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology spoke on strategies to promote positive mental health outcomes in emergency service personnel and how they are at a high risk of stress and traumatic stress.

Dr Shakespeare-Finch touched on a need to remember to focus on human strength and virtue, and consider a ‘solutio-genic’ approach as opposed to a pathogenic model and the importance of psycho-education for emergency services personnel.

Keynote speaker Mr Duncan Ferner, Secretariat Manager, NZ SAR Council spoke on an overview of SAR in New Zealand, how 95% of people in SAR are volunteers, and how rescue has become high profile leading to a high level of expectation from stakeholders.

Keynote speaker Mr Patrick Holmes, CEO Coastguard, New Zealand spoke about volunteers at risk and how they are the lifeline of the organisation who share a goal for zero boating fatalities.

Keynote speaker Ms Amber Young, Regional Aviation Manager – Northeast Region spoke on weather intelligence provided by the Bureau of Meteorology in support of SAR operations and how the information is provided as and when it’s needed, providing real-time intelligence on the best window of when to search.

Dr Melanie Irons, Psychology Lecturer, Charles Darwin University, NT shared her story of using social media in missing persons disaster situations and how people used a Facebook page for the Tassie fires of 2013 not only to co-ordinate and deliver much needed supplies but also to locate family members and find out if they were safe.

The key points from the SAR Conference included how advancements in technology are changing the way SAR operations are conducted through the use of radio tracking systems and there is an evident need to use the same methodology and technology across jurisdictions and one SAR system across all sectors. To read more click here.