The development by the IMRF and our partners of maritime SAR management, organisation and coordination in Rescue Coordination Centres across the north and west of Africa continues to advance, with the most recent training for On Scene Coordinators completed in late March in Agadir, Morocco.
22 trainees from 16 countries attended the course delivered by John A. Carey, Director of Personnel Recovery for the United States Navy’s Commander Naval Forces Europe/Africa and Commander 6th Fleet. Mr Carey provided an advanced OSC course as many of the trainees had attended the base OSC course delivered at the end of 2015.
Regional Coordinator and IMRF Trustee Mohammed Drissi is quick to stress the importance of the training delivered over the past three years in partnership with the IMO’s Technical Cooperation Directorate and the IMRF. Over 160 people from 16 countries have attended these courses since the end of 2014.
“We have managed to build momentum by arranging regular training and regional meetings,” says Mohammed. “There is now a pool of well trained SAR coordinators and managers in the majority of the countries’ RCCs across the region. The goal has always been to help each of the countries develop their own RCC capability so less time is lost and more lives can be saved when accidents occur at sea. We have now developed trainers within the region so we are less reliant on external trainers.”
This year these new trainers from Morocco will be working with up to 80 SAR coordinators at MRCCs in Cape Verde, Senegal and Mauritania, with a course for Francophone countries in the wider region delivered in French.
The challenge now is to find ways of continuing to fund this initiative as there is a reducing amount of support available through the IMO’s Technical Cooperation Committee.
“The IMRF became involved with this regional initiative as we identified that, without centralised coordination of maritime SAR through the RCC, it is a challenge to identify how best to assist the development of rescue services along these coasts,” says IMRF CEO Bruce Reid.
“There is now a demonstrated value in this programme so we hope we can find funding to continue to advance the SAR development. For many of the countries involved, funding maritime SAR development is not a priority. We need to encourage these countries to support future development. Until that time we need to find support to advance this initiative and to help complete the Global SAR Plan.”