USCG to test new SAR capabilities
The US Coast Guard (USCG) Research and Development Center (RDC) will participate in the Arctic Chinook field exercise to test the Next Generation Incident Command System (NICS) and new radio and internet communications systems for Arctic rescue operations.
Arctic Chinook is scheduled to be held 22-24 August 2016 and aims to address the need for Arctic search and rescue capabilities due to commercial expansion into the region.
NICS is a web-based system developed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Lincoln Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It guides users through standard incident response procedures and helps to organise search and rescue operations, accelerating the procedural process and allowing response commanders to chat with teams, send photographs and track assets using GPS.
The system is available in two formats, a desktop computer version and NICS mobile, which can be downloaded to any smartphone. Arctic Chinook will use both formats.
During the exercise, coast guard cutter USCGC Alex Haley (WMEC-39) will simulate a catastrophic event on a cruise ship forcing 250 crew and passengers to abandon ship. The mock accident will require the coast guard, the Canadian Air Force and the Alaska National Guard to work together for the rescue operation. The first responders will have to evaluate and prioritise evacuation of the mildly to severely wounded passengers and crew.
The RDC will also use the exercise to test new communications systems in Arctic environments. The USCG will test an inflatable Ku-band satellite dish for satellite internet connection to the NICS. Point-to-point line of sight transmitters will beam the signal from the satellite dish to the various command stations, and broadband data links will provide a wireless network for first responders.
The coast guard will also set up a network of mobile transmitters to provide smartphone coverage to critical areas. These tests will allow the RDC to investigate new options to improve communications in difficult Arctic environments.
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