Mass Rescue Operations

The IMRF recently held its third Maritime Mass Rescue Operations (MRO) Subject-Matter Expert Course in a bid to improve the understanding of and planning for MROs for search and rescue (SAR) organisations worldwide.

The event was held from 15-17 June 2022 in Gothenburg, Sweden, and run in collaboration with the Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS).

The course was facilitated by a leading team of MRO experts, Tom Gorgol, Program Manager – Mass Rescue Operations at the US Coast Guard; Rod Elkins, Passenger Vessel Safety & Mass Rescue Operations Specialist at the US Coast Guard in Miami, Florida; Fredrik Forsman, Instructor at Mechanics and Maritime Sciences at the Chalmers University of Technology’s Division of Maritime Studies; and Matthew Fader, International Search and Rescue Development at the Swedish Sea Rescue Society.

It included discussions and practical exercises on effectively planning for MROs, how to coordinate and communicated during an active incident, and how to adequately train and prepare for an MRO.

Although participants already had an extensive SAR and emergency planning experience, the course provided them the opportunity to study developing MRO issues, develop potential solutions, and acquire additional subject-matter skills that can then be applied to local and regional MRO planning and preparation.

Courses like these run by the IMRF provide invaluable lessons based on real-life experiences, not only from the instructors but from the other participants as well,” said Matthew.

MROs are incredibly complicated,” Tom added. “There are a magnitude of responsibilities associated with responding to an MRO event, which is why it is paramount to develop a cohesive ‘community’ MRO plan that involves all key stakeholders, including both maritime and shore-side responders. This ‘community’ approach will allow all stakeholders to understand each agencies roles and responsibility, which leads to an effective and efficient response to an MRO.

It is because of the complexity involved in planning and preparing for a maritime MRO that SAR organisations must ensure that there is a strong internal coordination between all personnel involved, and the IMRF’s MRO subject-matter course gave participants the chance to learn just that.

The course demonstrated the need to develop relationships and engage regularly with all stakeholders involved in an MRO response. This is vital when developing an MRO readiness strategy,” said Brendan Curtin, Operations Officer, Preparedness Section at the Irish Coast Guard and a participant in the MRO subject-matter expert course.

The course was an excellent learning environment to gain additional knowledge and share real-world examples of MROs for instructors and delegates from around the world,” he added.

In addition to the course, the IMRF has also released the latest version of its Mass Rescue Operations (MRO) Summary Guidance documents.

The documents are available to download from the IMRF’s official MRO website:

The IMRF’s latest guidance documents are designed to offer SAR organisations a framework to develop their own MRO plans, as well as provide practical advice on issues related to funding, resources and communication strategies.

You can read more about the IMRF’s MRO guidance and access additional resources to aid your MRO planning here: