The role of a search and rescue (SAR) first responder is not one without risks.

From varying climates to a host of differing incident types, maritime SAR first responders – be they full-time staff or volunteers – put their own health and safety at risk when called into action.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to maritime SAR. Each incident will be unique owing to the location, the climate, the vessel, and the personnel involved. It could be a container ship that has caught fire or a lone kayaker who has been caught in rough waters. The first responder has to be prepared to act quickly, effectively and, above all else, safely, both for themselves and those being rescued.   

In recognition of all their work, we here at the IMRF want to thank all maritime SAR first responders for their tireless efforts to ensure the seas are safe as part of World Day for Health and Safety at Work.

“Maritime SAR first responders put themselves at extraordinary risk each and every day. Each year thousands of lives are saved because of their work and dedication. I want to take this opportunity to thank them all, no matter their role, in helping to keep our seas safe, sometimes at their own personal risk,” said Theresa Crossley, Chief Executive Officer, IMRF.

This day, which takes place every year on 28 April, is an opportunity to raise awareness of ensuring a safe and healthy work environment to prevent injuries and deaths.

For maritime SAR organisations, this means ensuring that all SAR personnel have access to all the necessary equipment, training, and guidance so that they can respond to SAR incidents safely and effectively.

In its role as a non-governmental organisation (NGO), the IMRF looks to connect global SAR organisations together to improve SAR capabilities worldwide. This gives all our members the chance to share their experiences and lessons learnt during SAR incidents, regardless of if they were exercises or real-life incidents.

This includes our Future Technology Panel, which is open to all members and offers a forum to share their experiences, both successes and failures, in the research and development of new technology and best practices. You can read more about at our Future Technology Panel here:

In addition, the IMRF is the only maritime SAR NGO with a consultative status at the International Maritime Organization. That means that we have an important role to play to ensure that maritime SAR capability standards are always high, as well as being manageable and practical.  

“I want to thank each and every member of the IMRF for all of their contributions they have made and continue to make in the pursuit of improving maritime SAR capabilities around the world. Our mission is not done but we have made extraordinary strides in recent years,” Theresa added.

The Covid-19 pandemic has added complexity to keeping maritime SAR healthy and safe at work. To help global SAR organisations combat this, the IMRF developed the Pandemic Response Guidance for Maritime Search and Rescue Organisations, supported by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

The guidance contains information on how to ensure that SAR operations can be conducted safely during a pandemic. You can read the full guidance here:  

Click here to find out more about the IMRF and the benefits of membership.