Strengthening partnerships for mission success

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Story and photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony L. Soto
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In the world of emergency response, one can accurately infer that strong working relationships among all involved parties are crucial to mission success. The Coast Guard, being one of the nation’s top emergency response organizations, works with local agencies throughout the country every day in search and rescue operations, law enforcement cases and even environmental protection missions to ensure the preservation of lives, protection of property and national security, and the conservation of ecosystems and endangered species.

In order to maintain professional relations between agencies, these partnerships have to begin somewhere. In Jacksonville, Fla., Coast Guard crews met with several local agencies Wednesday to further enhance relations with community response organizations by participating in an interagency gathering. Coast Guardsmen from Sector Jacksonville, Air Station Savannah, Ga., and Coast Guard Auxiliary aviation coordinators from Savannah met with representatives from St. Johns County Sheriff’s Department and Flagler County Emergency Services.

Capt. Tom Allan, commander of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, Fla., addresses the attendees of an interagency gathering Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, at the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron in Jacksonville. The gathering included members from Sector Jacksonville, Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, Ga., Coast Guard Auxiliary aviation coordinators from Savannah, St. Johns County Sheriff's Office and Flagler County Emergency Services Fireflight and allowed participants to discuss their different assets, equipment and operational capabilities. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony L. Soto

Capt. Tom Allan, commander of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, Fla., addresses the attendees of an interagency gathering Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, at the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron in Jacksonville. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony L. Soto

“We were excited to coordinate this event,” said Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Sullivan, the Sector Jacksonville command center chief. “Our collaboration with partner agencies in the region greatly improves our emergency response times, extends our reach and reduces response time during emergency situations. The partnerships we strengthened there translate into better communication, coordination and opportunities for interagency training in order to provide the local community the most comprehensive and professional response available.”

The Coast Guard’s goals for the event included sharing search and rescue capabilities, strengthening current relationships with local agencies and providing training to streamline emergency response, said Sullivan. Coast Guardsmen shared information about search and rescue operations and the many tools used to affect successful responses. Flagler County provided similar training, highlighting the versatile capabilities of its multi-mission helicopter, FireFlight.

Toward the end of the gathering, all crews met on the Cecil Field tarmac to tour each other’s air frames. There, participants learned more about each aircraft, including the limitations and advantages of each one.

With the quickly-approaching warm weather of spring and summer comes increased recreational boating and water activities, increasing the potential for maritime emergencies. The Coast Guard and its local partners stand ready to provide the public with a professional and thorough emergency response body, training daily until the call for help is heard.

For additional pictures from the event, click the photo.

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