When two or more SAR facilities are working together on the same mission, it is usually advantageous if one person is assigned to coordinate the activities of all participating facilities. The SMC designates this OSC, who may be the person in charge of an SRU, ship, or aircraft participating in a search, or someone at another nearby facility able to handle OSC duties. The person in charge of the first SAR resource to arrive at the scene will normally assume the function of OSC until the SMC directs that the OSC function be transferred. Conceivably, the OSC may have to assume SMC duties and actually plan the search and/or rescue if the OSC becomes aware of a distress situation directly and communications cannot be established with an RCC. The OSC should be the most capable person available, taking into consideration SAR training, communications capabilities and the length of time that the facility on which the OSC is aboard can stay in the search area. Frequent changes in the OSC should be avoided. When appropriate, an aircraft coordinator (ACO) may also be designated to assist with on-scene coordination of SAR aircraft.
Responsible authorities should find ways of training and exercising the OSC and ACO functions, both for those who act in these roles and for those who cooperate closely with them.
Aircraft coordinator (ACO) joint training
The SAR management should provide OSC and ACO training between SRU crews from different organizations that might act as OSCs or ACOs. The training should improve understanding of the OSC and ACO roles and increase confidence amongst the participating SRUs.
OSC and ACO training can consist of:
- lessons from real life SAR missions;
- legal documents;
- duties of cooperating organizations;
- performance characteristics of SRUs;
- typical cases and methods;
- SMC– OSC– ACO role-playing; and
- paper exercises.
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