Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard “Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council” magazine by Mr. Rick Button, Chief, Coordination Division, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Search and Rescue.
What is the NSARC?
There is quite a bit of history behind the National Search and Rescue Committee (NSARC). In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked the Air Coordinating Committee to review U.S. civil aviation policy. The committee members studied all available facilities, including provisions to control and coordinate all types of search and rescue missions. Their efforts resulted in the National Search and Rescue Plan of the United States. Unfortunately, after this excellent start, the plan sat on a federal shelf for over almost two decades.
During a 1974 national search and rescue (SAR) conference, the Department of Transportation volunteered to organize and implement the Interagency Committee on Search and Rescue (ICSAR) to oversee the National Search and Rescue Plan. In 1999, the National Search and Rescue Plan was rewritten and ICSAR was renamed the National Search and Rescue Committee. In 2007, as a result of the problems identified in the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the National Search and Rescue Plan was rewritten a second time. The revised plan now includes the federal government’s response to large-scale, infrequent, mass rescue SAR operations.
In addition to the Department of Homeland Security, NSARC member federal departments and agencies include the Departments of Defense, Commerce, Interior, and Transportation; the Federal Communications Commission; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Other national organizations such as the Civil Air Patrol and the National Association for Search and Rescue participate as observers.
· Provide a standing committee to oversee the National Search and Rescue Plan and coordinate interagency SAR matters.
· Provide a forum for preliminary development of interagency positions in SAR matters.
· Provide for an interface with other national agencies involved with emergency services.
In addition to overseeing the National Search and Rescue Plan, NSARC also developed the United States National SAR Supplement, which has two key goals:
· Provide guidance to implement the National Search and Rescue Plan.
· Provide guidance for member agencies in fulfilling U.S. obligations under international SAR conventions.
NSARC in a Post-Hurricane Katrina World
Since Hurricane Katrina, the National Search and Rescue Committee’s role in national search and rescue coordination has dramatically increased. NSARC’s member agencies realized that not only did the National Search and Rescue Plan and U.S. National Search and Rescue Supplement require changes to reflect disaster operations, but also needed to address a new interagency search and rescue paradigm.
NSARC created an interagency task force to address these concerns. In 2007 the task force rewrote the National Search and Rescue Plan to identify the United States federal SAR coordinator’s responsibilities and provide national SAR guidance, as well as harmonize the National Search and Rescue Plan within the national response framework.
Additionally, the National Search and Rescue Committee coordinated efforts among the U.S. Northern Command, the Marine Corps, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and other Department of Defense offices, the Coast Guard, National Park Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the National Association for Search and Rescue to create a Catastrophic Incident SAR Addendum. The addendum provides guidance for coordinating catastrophic incident search and rescue among responders. NSARC will review the addendum annually to incorporate lessons learned and other new information.
For more information:
Full article and “Interagency Success Stories” edition of USCG Proceedings is available at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/spring2009.
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Direct requests for print copies of this edition to: HQS-DG-NMCProceedings@uscg.mil.
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Thursday, June 17, 2010
Posted by Editor Sarah Webster, at USCG Proceedings of the MSSC (DCO-84)
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