Southold, N.Y. – Sea Tow operators representing the Central Florida Lakes region, Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Fla., were among the more than 40 police and emergency response agencies that attended the 2015 Northeast Florida Search and Rescue Conference. Held April 9th at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, the inaugural event was sponsored by U.S. Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. It featured a day of presentations and discussions aimed at improving communication and understanding between various agencies and first responders involved in on-water search and rescue (SAR) operations.
Sea Tow Central Florida Lakes, Sea Tow St. Augustine and Sea Tow Jacksonville represented Sea Tow Services International at the event. The goals of the Northeast Florida SAR Conference were to foster and maintain solid relationships with SAR partners within the Sector Jacksonville area of responsibility; ensure proficient communication flow among SAR partners; better understand each other’s policies, procedures, and requirements; and provide basic SAR training.
“Bringing many federal, state and local agencies in northeastern Florida, along with the Coast Guard, together allowed for a better understanding of policies, procedures and asset capabilities,” said Lt. Christina Muralles, command center chief of USCG Sector Jacksonville. “Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville plans to visit each agency on an individual basis in order to better understand their operations, provide training if requested and learn how we can assist each other during search and rescue cases. In addition, depending on the result analysis of the conference, we may look at more frequent meetings between federal, state and local agencies and the Coast Guard.”
She added that there are plans to make the conference an annual event.
For the Sea Tow operators present, the conference also provided a chance to improve communications, especially in situations where Sea Tow operators are first on the scene of an incident.
“We discussed how we can share vital information about weather conditions, wind direction and the last known position of the vessel or people we’re looking for,” said Capt. Kerry Kline, owner of Sea Tow Central Florida Lakes. “It also gave us a chance to get acquainted and get to know each other, which is very important in SAR relationships.”