UK MCA: Cayman Islands Search & Rescue Needs Improvement

UK MCA: Cayman Islands Search & Rescue Needs Improvement

Caymen islands rescue boatSearch and rescue capabilities in the Cayman Islands are not what they need to be according to an alarming report issued by the UK Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA). The report suggests that there is a ‘number of challenges’ dictating that search and rescue efforts in the Caymans need significant improvement. Improvements are necessary for funding, training, manpower, and the use of available resources.

The MCA report is the first in a series of reports commissioned by the British government detailing the current condition of search and rescue efforts in all British Overseas Territories. The Cayman Islands were chosen first on the list as a result of the loss of five lives last year in an incident that called into question the search and rescue capabilities of local authorities.

Comprehensive Training Is Key to Success

We can’t speak to the issues of funding, manpower or the better use of resources given that we don’t know all the details. But we can address the topic of maritime training. As leaders in maritime training in the UK, we can attest to the fact that regular and comprehensive training is the key to success in any search and rescue operation.

The whole point of training is to get search and rescue personnel to the point of being able to act quickly and skilfully without second-guessing what they are doing. Good training has students constantly practising the most routine tasks associated with search and rescue. It also challenges students with unusual scenarios that force them to think outside the box. It is the combination of routine practice and new challenges that keep search and rescue teams operating at the highest possible levels of performance.

Training Standards

If training is a problem in the Cayman Islands, it is something that can be fixed rather easily. It’s simply a matter of enrolling search and rescue teams in training courses that will bring them up to speed on the latest standards and best practices. Those same teams should undergo remedial training on a regular basis to keep their skills sharp.

Perhaps insufficient funding is behind the lack of training in the Caymans. If so, it would seem reasonable for Britain to assist local authorities in coming up with ways to fund search and rescue training. Lives are depending on it, and those lives can’t be quantified on a financial balance sheet.

Sources:

  1. Cayman News Service – https://caymannewsservice.com/2017/02/major-gaps-in-search-rescue-revealed/