Coast Guard concludes 7th annual search and rescue forum in Hampton, Va.

Mid Atlantic Coast Guard News
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard and the Virginia Port Authority concluded the 7th annual search and rescue forum Friday in Hampton.

The event focused on increasing first responders’ teamwork and communication in order to better prepare agencies for maritime emergency response.

Personnel from the Virginia Marine Police, Smithfield Police Department, Henrico Fire Department, York County Fire and Life Safety, Fort Eustis Fire and Emergency Services, the Norfolk Airport Authority Fire Department, Poquoson Fire Rescue, Richmond Ambulance Authority, the Association of Maryland Pilots, the Virginia Pilot Association, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration participated in the search and rescue forum. Also participating were police and fire departments from Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, and James City County.

“This is an opportunity for all the first responders in the Port of Hampton Roads to bring their fire, police and marine police units together to train and learn best practices in collaboration in advance of search and rescue season, which is right around the corner,” said Capt. John Little, the captain of the port for Hampton Roads. “It could be that another government agency may arrive on scene before we do. It’s important for them, as a first responder, to know how to run a search and rescue case, how to conduct search patterns and know what the communications are going to be with the Coast Guard command center.”

A new aspect of this year’s forum was the addition of the boom deployment training, which will allow other government agencies to assist the Coast Guard in protecting environmentally sensitive areas during an emergency.

“Whenever you’re doing any type of maritime response, there’s always a threat of pollution,” said Little. “One of the mechanisms to control that is boom and it takes boats to tow it. This is a great chance for other agencies to become proficient at boom deployment.”

“We see this as being not only a best practice, but something we look forward to developing into a better program each year,” said Little.

The search and rescue forum has been held in Hampton for the past three years.

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