Volunteers at the new Ballina Marine Rescue Tower.
Volunteers at the new Ballina Marine Rescue Tower. Marc Stapelberg

Water cops put Marine Rescue through paces ahead of summer

WATER cops and Marine Rescue crews will be scouring the waters off Ballina's coast to locate three people aboard a boat missing after a fishing trip last night.

But while the people are mannequins and the boat is a decoy, the mock-exercise will taken very seriously as Marine Rescue volunteers prepare for a busy summer season on North Coast waterways.

About 30 volunteers from the Ballina, Brunswick, Iluka-Yamba, Evans Head and Point Danger units will take part in the Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) major joint-agency search and rescue scenario.

SAREX is run about five times a year in different locations along the east coast, according to NSW Police Search and Rescue coordinator Sergeant Paul Farquharson.

Four officers from the Marine Area Command Coffs Harbour sector arrived in Ballina on Friday morning for the mock-search that started on Friday afternoon to run until Saturday afternoon.

The scenario would also include a search of boat ramps to find the missing boater's vehicle with search planning, communications and logistics to be managed from the Marine Rescue Ballina radio tower.

Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Dean Storey said the exercise would ensure crews were at peak readiness for the summer boating season.

"The amount of boating traffic will jump significantly over the summer as tourists flock to the coastline and that means an increased workload for our crews," he said.

"It is important for our personnel to train with our rescue colleagues in order to fine-tune our response and maximise the safety for our courageous volunteers."

"They provide the boating community with a world-class safety net on the water."


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