Today, calling for help from the high seas is easier and more effective than ever before.
Everyone is familiar with the 911 system that facilitates shoreside emergency communication and response. Calling 911 isn’t the most effective option for getting help in a marine emergency, but you’ll soon be able to call Rescue 21. Rescue 21 is about to become the modern emergency response system for U.S. coastal waters, navigable rivers and lakes.
Rescue 21 will provide major improvements to the Coast Guard’s ability to detect calls for help and to locate vessels in distress. It will enhance the agency’s ability to coordinate search and rescue operations, to promote homeland security and to prevent environmental damage to the nation's waterways. The Rescue 21 system will provide coverage to 20 nautical miles from the coasts of the contiguous United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Gulf of Alaska. Coverage will include the Great Lakes, navigable waters of the Intracoastal Waterway System and the Western Rivers.
Rescue 21 will provide reliable voice and data communications between vessels and shore stations, together with instantaneous information about the location and identity of a vessel in distress. Installation of the shorebased components of the system will begin in 2004, with full deployment slated for 2006.
If you’re a boater and you use a marine radio, Rescue 21 is going to change your life…for the better.
Rescue 21 forms a component of the international Global Maritime Distress & Safety System or GMDSS, which is already a fact of life aboard commercial ships. These vessels are required to carry GMDSS equipment including radios equipped with Digital Selective Calling or DSC, satellite EPIRBS and Search and Rescue Transponders or SARTS. Commercial deck officers face mandatory training and testing requirements and must become certified as GMDSS operators.
GMDSS and the use of DSC radios are voluntary for recreational vessels but they’re going to have an impact on recreational boaters, who need to become familiar with their features.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the U.S. Coast Guard strongly encourage recreational boaters to carry selected GMDSS equipment to enhance their safety. The critical units are a DSC-compliant marine radio and a 406 Megahertz satellite EPIRB.
In simple terms, your safety depends on keeping up to date with the changes that are occurring in marine communications and safety.
Produced in cooperation with the National GMDSS Task Force, Taking the Search out of Search and Rescue is an audio-visual training resource designed to provide recreational boaters with the knowledge required to participate safety and confidently in the new era of marine distress and safety communications.
According to Director Capt. Jack Fuechsel (USCG, Ret.), “The Task Force has long advocated the voluntary use of selected GMDSS systems by the Recreational Boater as a major safety improvement. While many other nations have made such safety improvements for small craft mandatory and required specialized training, this is not the case in the U.S. Under the circumstances, the Task Force strongly advocates voluntary self-training programs to ensure that recreational boat operators fully understand how to properly use the systems to enhance their safety and minimize unintended false distress alerts.
“We are pleased to endorse the new video training product, Taking the Search Out of Search and Rescue”.
Taking the Search out of Search & Rescue is organized into three segments.