PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The U.S. Coast Guard and Virginia Port Authority hosted the 11th Annual Steven Todd Dooley Search and Rescue Forum Monday through Friday in Hampton.
The five-day event featured more than 200 first responders and support staff from 31 federal, state and local agencies covering three states jointly trained both on and off the water for first response during an emergency.
The forum provided an opportunity for the first responders within the Port of Virginia to train and learn best practices in a collaborative environment prior to the start of search and rescue season. Each day of the forum presented learning opportunities about small boat handling, safely recovering a person in the water, approaching a boat on fire, deploying boom, sonar operations, search and rescue patterns and towing practices.
In addition, the search and rescue forum provided an opportunity for first responders and support staff to work on maritime law enforcement. Law enforcement officers attending the forum attended training tailored to their specific duties, such as boarding and searching. Command staff and 911 communications panels took place to provide information to regional command and dispatch staff.
“A strong interagency approach is required to meet the challenges ahead in our busy and growing port,” said Capt. Rick Wester, commander, Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads.
The forum was created to emphasize collaboration among a diverse base of personnel, platforms and equipment to complete a variety of missions, due to challenges faced in the maritime environment.
For one week each year, men and women from all branches of public safety and the maritime industry come together to focus on the practices that will ensure the Port of Virginia and Mid-Atlantic region remains safe.