Prime Minister calls for use of available resources at open forum on Search and Rescue

Efforts aimed at boosting Guyana’s capacity to respond to maritime, air and land disasters was further advanced yesterday with another open forum facilitated by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) on Search and Rescue (SAR) programmes and plans, at the Carifesta Sports Complex, Carifesta Avenue. Agencies part-taking in the SAR efforts focused mainly on saving lives.

Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds performing the duties of President noted that over the few years the stakeholders have been meeting to review and analyse the SAR plans for Guyana. He explained that the SAR Committee was established following the loss of an areoplane over the middle Mazaruni where an extensive search was carried out. Prime Minister Hinds recognised the need for the Guyanese public to participate in such forums so that they can become aware of the SAR efforts, their possible contributions and the constraints.

In light of the restrictions, “if we are to put our situation in context we are a growing developing country, we are very early on the road that developed countries have trod” he said.

The question now is, “what best can we do with what we have today? And let us endeavour to work to have more tomorrow” Prime Minister Hinds stated. He posited that any solutions for Guyana lie in Guyanese and the available resources.

Col. (ret’d), Chabilall Ramsarup pointed out that the collaborating agencies engaged in SAR planning process include the Ministries of Health and Public Works and Communication, Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Guyana Police Force (GPF), Guyana Prison Service (GPS), Guyana Fire Service (GFS), Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the Private Aircraft Association and CDC, as the coordinating agency.

In some instances more than one person within a specific agency are engaged and this presents the opportunity for more expertise to be had thereby facilitating a deeper and wider planning process. Ramsarup posited that in the initial stages of planning it was agreed that the national plan would be divided into three areas which are the air SAR plan, for which the GCAA have oversight, the maritime SAR plan headed by the Maritime Administration and the land SAR headed by the Guyana Police Force.

The land SAR plan is somewhat difficult mainly because of four areas including Guyana’s geography, resources, communication and a dedicated organization. In other countries the land SAR is headed by the Fire Service however, in this instance due to the geographic location of the GPF it was determined that it was best to have that agency in the lead, he added. Ramsarup explained that following the development of the three plans, which were done through wide consultations a set of standard operating procedures and the compilation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) were determined. The MoU made partnering agencies aware of their roles, responsibilities and how they were to react in particular scenarios.

There were two table top exercises that facilitated some amount of review and allowed for changes to the plans. Ramsarup emphasised that the available resources, both material and manpower, are critical since a standing SAR organisation does not exist nor can it be afforded. In this regard, public and private sector agencies are engaged in the SAR efforts so that the existing resources, within those agencies, can be utilized allowing the efficient execution of efforts.

He disclosed that by the end of the year a move will be made for approval from Cabinet for a SAR bill to be tabled in Parliament. Presentations were made about the content of the Aeronautical and Maritime SAR plans which were followed by a question and answer session and was attended by members of the GDF, GPF, GPS, Coast Guard and persons from the Transport and Harbours department.

Source: NCN Guyana