Ireland today played host to the 15th Shepard Search and Rescue (SAR) conference involving search and rescue professionals from Europe and beyond. The SAR Europe conference which takes place from 15-16 March 2012 in Killiney, Dublin is a first for Ireland as host country. The conference provides a unique opportunity for Search and Rescue professionals from around the world to gather together and discuss their wide operational experiences, learn about new technical developments, share information, debate issues, exchange ideas and discuss relationships and opportunities for co-operation. The keynote address at the conference today was delivered by Mr. Chris Reynolds, Director of the Irish Coast Guard. Mr. Reynolds is current chair of the EU Heads of Coast Guard.
Coast Guards world-wide frequently work in the most dangerous and challenging of situations. Their experience includes search and rescue missions in areas of natural disasters, in treacherous and often life-threatening sea conditions, in isolated and difficult situations on land, air and in mountainous terrain, often in the most inclement weather conditions. Many Coast Guard Units around the world (as in Ireland and the UK) are augmented by the assistance of trained public volunteers.
Those attending the conference in Dublin over both days come with experience of search and rescue in those diverse situations world-wide. Guest speakers at the conference include representatives from the Icelandic, Irish, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, French, UK and the US Coast Guard. Presentations will also be given by the Ministry of Transport in China, the European Maritime Safety Agency in Portugal, the Marine Ambulance Response Team in Ireland, the Armed Forces of Malta and by the Head of the Sea Border Sector in Poland. The Italian Coast Guard’s Commander Giuseppe Troina will give a briefing on the evacuation from the recent Costa Concordia ferry disaster in Italy.
Speaking today, Mr. Reynolds said: “More than ever, members of the EU have realised the benefits of stronger relationships of Coast Guards in dealing with major environmental and human tragedies. But across the globe, Coast Guard Units also face the same challenges. Search and rescue means we are united in the goal of preserving life in difficult conditions and providing a maritime surveillance and response to the effects of pollution, among our other activities. Conferences such as this are a unique opportunity to share our experiences world-wide and to explore the potential of agreements to co-operate and work jointly to share service. It is an honour for Ireland to host this conference and I look forward to positive developments arising from this. Preserving lives and improving our relationships in search and rescue is what this is all about, together with improved effectiveness and efficiency at reduced cost for all other activities”.