Apart from its many other areas of work, the IMRF is the representative voice of maritime SAR – the 'non-Governmental organisation in consultative status', as the jargon puts it – at the IMO. This means that we can speak for our Members and for maritime SAR on the world stage, at the appropriate technical body of the United Nations.
But SAR is not only maritime, of course.
While SAR on land is largely a matter for individual States to look after, the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) also has an obvious interest in the subject.
So the two agencies – IMO and ICAO – established a Joint Working Group (JWG) 20 years ago to harmonise aeronautical and maritime SAR response. The JWG meets annually, to deal with matters referred to it by its two parent organisations. This year's meeting has just been held, in Amsterdam, and David Jardine-Smith of the IMRF was there.
One of the primary purposes of the JWG is to act as an editorial board for the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual. It is now working on the edition to be published in 2016. (If you haven't got your copy of the 2013 edition yet, remember you can save 20% by buying at the IMRF Bookshop!
Among other 2016 IAMSAR texts reviewed in Amsterdam was a final revision of the guidance on search times for people believed to be in the water. This revision stems from the work done by an IMRF-coordinated expert group, as previously reported in LIFE LINE. Similarly the JWG reviewed and approved, with minor amendments, the IMRF's revision of the guidance on recovery techniques – how to get people out of the water, particularly into big ships.
Other work the IMRF will continue to take part in is to do with improving mass rescue operations; the response to emergency beacon alerts; and the IMO's review of the Global Maritime Distress & Safety System – the GMDSS.