BALTIMORE - The Coast Guard hosted the 2011 Search and Rescue Conference at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore to improve cooperation between search and rescue agencies in the upper Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, Friday.
Approximately 100 members from the Coast Guard, Maryland Natural Resources Police, Maryland State Police, and supervisors from more than 25 emergency response centers gathered together for a daylong conference to discuss ways to improve communication between the agencies, establish best practices and introduced new systems that can be adopted between agencies.
"Today's SAR conference brought together professionals from a wide variety of agencies to discuss policy, resources, communications and coordination," said Capt. Mark P. O'Malley, commanding officer at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore. "Our common goal, to keep our citizens safe on the water and rapid, effective response when they need assistance, was strengthened through an open productive dialogue. I am grateful that so many professionals took the time to attend today with singular determination to improve our service."
The multi-agency conference this year specifically focused on communication between the Coast Guard and 911 emergency call centers, which receive a growing number of distress calls from cell phone users on the water.
“We have an opportunity to create an interoperability plan because of improved radio systems, so that when assets are on the water, whether they’re fire rescue, state police, EMS, or the Coast Guard, we can connect them together and talk to each other,” said Tony Rose, chief of communications center in Charles County. “Without reliable communication, our mission is at risk.”
The conference was also held as an open forum for agencies to explain their own policies when it comes to handling a distress call and establish the best practices between them. It also included lectures regarding the Coast Guard's SAR organizational structure.
Following the conference, a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter, a Maryland State Police Helicopter, a Coast Guard 25-foot Response Boat-small, a vessel from Maryland Natural Resources Police and an Anne Arundel Mobile Command Post were on display and available for tours.
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