The U.S Coast Guard, in collaboration with various government agencies, completed a two-day search and rescue exercise, an exercise that hasn’t been done in the CNMI since 2019.
Last Wednesday, the U.S Coast Guard and CNMI partners concluded their two-day training exercise with a hands-on simulation of a capsized kayak off Tanapag Harbor.
In an interview, Lt. Edward Oingerang, lieutenant junior grade with Coast Guard sector Guam, said the two-day training turned out great.
“It was an amazing training event. We did a tabletop exercise for basic search and rescue which consisted of training for search patterns, how we determine search areas, and basic navigation rules. The most important part of this training is the search and rescue and team collaboration from all our organizations. We are super small out here, especially in terms of resources, and we are very far away from additional resources. The best thing for us to do is collaborate and work with one another in our search and rescues so that way we can have the best-case possible outcome,” he said.
“The training was good. It’s nice to get everyone out there together, get them talking with one another, communicating with one another, building a strong response relationship. It;s also nice to have them get familiarized with how the Coast Guard conducts search and rescue missions, and for us to also familiarize ourselves on how search and rescues are done here so that way we can have more effective searches in the future,” Oingerang added.
Meanwhile, individuals who participated in the training also shared their experiences and the importance of these kinds of trainings for their particular roles in the community, following the conclusion of the exercise yesterday.
According to Lt. Abraham Quitugua, of the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Search and Rescue division, for DFEMS personnel the training is an important refresher.
“We took this training back in 2019. We did some search patterns that Coast Guard provided. Pretty much what we’re doing with the Coast Guard is different types of search patterns based on what they use when searching for missing vessels or distressed swimmers. It’s important to have these kind of training as we are first responders. We are the first to respond to search and rescue calls so having this kind of knowledge is good for us,” he said.
Lt. Kimo Rogopes, of the Commonwealth Ports Authority Harbor Patrol Division, stated that in the real world, you never know when we’re going to be out there conducting a search and rescue so it’s important to have trainings such as these as information from these training will serve detrimentally useful for those circumstances.
“It’s been a while since we had this training. The last training we had like this was back in 2019. It’s a good thing that the Coast Guard came back and refreshed us with these important search patterns. Realistically, we’re a supporting agency. But when our other responding agency partners need assistance, it’s good to have this kind of training so we can be ready,” he said.
Mark Manaluz, of the Division of Customs Maritime Enforcement Unit, stated that this training helps their division in terms of assisting their fellow responding agencies, and also learn important skills that can be used while intercepting out at sea if need be.
“This training is really good for us so we can work together with other agencies. Some of the exercise include throwing out a buoy and we did search patterns on finding the buoy. For the division, this kind of training will be useful as we can now board and operate search and rescue boats and intercept illegal substances coming in,” he said.
The U.S. Coast Guard and CNMI partners conducted the search and rescue exercise on Saipan from Tuesday, Aug. 23 to Wednesday, Aug. 24.
Invited agencies include the Department of Public Safety, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Division of Environmental Quality-Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, Homeland Security and Emergency management, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Commonwealth Port Authority, Customs and Biosecurity, and other local officials and representatives.