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Guam tests joint rescue capability at Tarague

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Carissa Morgan
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
When a search and rescue is initiated at Tarague Beach, the Air Force is only one of several agencies that responds. In a cooperative effort to maximize the chances of survival, the Navy's Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Five, Coast Guard, Guam Fire Department, Guam Police Department, Army National Guard and Andersen Fire Department each perform a vital role. 

For the mission to be successful, each unit must communicate with one another.
A joint search and rescue exercise was held at Tarague Beach April 26 to test the command and control and communication between the rescue elements. During the scenario, the joint team had to locate and rescue two people who were swept over the reef. 

"Tarague has had problems in the past with communications," said Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Tess Neumann, evaluator for the exercise. "The problem is the radio frequencies," said Lieutenant Neumann. "On land there is a certain frequency, and then on sea there is a different one. This is where most of the gaps in communication occur." 

"In the two years I have been here, there have been three or four casualties, which is not acceptable," she said. 

"The reason we do these exercises every three months is to ensure a constant improvement in communication," said Lieutenant Neumann. 

"The first responders to the beach are the Air Force, the first responders in the air are the Navy and the first responders to sea are a collaboration of the Coast Guard, Air Force and the Guam Fire Department," said Lieutenant Neumann. "Previously in these exercises we would get to the scene, do our own things, and pray that it worked. Doing these exercises every three months is important because now we don't have to hope it is going to work," she said. 

"Everyone works towards a goal, we all have certain parts we perform to complete the mission," said John Thompson, the Andersen Fire Department Fire Chief. Chief Thompson was the Incident Commander on scene for the exercise. 

For example, the Navy plays a role in incidents by providing air support.
"Our support is extremely important," said Navy Lieutenant Jarrett Randolph, the Search and Rescue Officer for HSC-25. "We can search a larger area and can get to places that are unsafe or unreachable for other types of craft or people." 

"Time is a big factor in search and rescues, as the airborne asset we can get there sooner in a lot of cases," she said. 

Even though we are an important part of search and rescues, we are still part of the larger team, said the lieutenant. 

"Everyone has a piece of the puzzle," said Lieutenant Randolph. "It all comes together in real world scenarios when we practice and do exercises like this." 

"Practice makes perfect," she said. "It's better to develop procedures and fix what needs to be fixed in a training scenario instead of real world situations." 

"Exercises also provide everyone an opportunity to get together, flex their wings and show each other their capabilities," said Lieutenant Randolph. "Plus it is always good to go through the motions." 

"I also happen to be the evaluator of this exercise, which allows me to see where the breaks in communication are," said Lieutenant Neumann. "I have the command center giving me the information they have received to me, and at the same time I am seeing it unfold at the scene," she said. 

"We know unless there is a break in communication, our exercises will work, which is why the focus of these exercises is communication," said Lieutenant Neumann.
"Most important, by doing all these exercises we all get together and establish com-mun-i-cat-ion," said Lieutenant Randolph. "Communication is absolutely essential, without it the mission would fail."

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