The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has contributed to boosting search and rescue capabilities in Antarctica this month.

Two of AMSA’s specialist search and rescue trainers headed to Canada earlier this month to facilitate training for the Australian Antarctic Division’s (AAD) contracted aircraft operators.

Each Antarctic summer season, AAD contracts aircraft to support their operations in the Australian Antarctic Territory. AMSA is providing search and rescue training to personnel who will be deployed to Antarctica for this year’s season.

Annual training is undertaken to ensure that any AMSA tasked air searches and search and rescue supply-drop operations undertaken by AAD’s contracted aircraft are conducted effectively and safely.

The support aircraft, which are based in Calgary in Canada out of season, carry a range of search and rescue equipment on board such as radio direction finding equipment for locating distress beacons, and droppable life-support equipment to aid survivors of an aircraft accident until rescue.

The four day course covered a range of topics including AMSA’s role and functions, air search observing techniques and distress beacons. The training also ran through a range of drills and hands on training in supply drops and locating distress beacons.

AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said this was one of several search and rescue training courses and exercises undertaken by AMSA.

AMSA also runs training for State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers in air observation and works with search and rescue agencies such as police and Volunteer Marine Rescue on annual exercises to test personnel and equipment.

Australian Antarctic Division Director Dr Tony Fleming said the training enhanced safety for personnel working in Antarctica. “Given the remote and extreme conditions we work in, the AAD is keen to ensure the people working with our program have the best possible training,” Dr Fleming said.

“We are very pleased to work with AMSA to ensure our Antarctic aircraft operators have the best possible search and rescue training,” he said.

Source: AMSA