SAR Europe: Hello, and welcome to this IQPC podcast presented in conjunction with the Search and Rescue Europe Conference 2013. I’m your host today, Helen Winsor, and I’m delighted to be joined by one of our key speakers, Michael Hjorth, Commander for Chief Operations at the Joint Arctic Command. Michael, welcome to the show. How are you today?
M Hjorth: I’m fine, thank you. And how are you?
SAR Europe: I’m very well, thanks; great of you to join us. I’ve got a few questions for you today. First of all, can we set out what the priorities are within the Arctic region for search and rescue? This is the region that you control.
M Hjorth: First of all, I want just to say that in 2011 the foreign ministers within the Arctic countries had a foreign ministers’ meeting and in that meeting they decided to focus on search and rescue, and then it was up to the Arctic countries to plan for holding SAR exercises. And the reason for that is of course that the climate changes are opening up the higher Arctic. That means new sailing routes and more ship activities, and of course higher risk for a major live certain rescue evacuation response operation, and that has definitely been the top priority for the eight Arctic countries within the last couple of years, so that’s simply the risk for a live major certain rescue operation.
SAR Europe: Yes. So there’s been a marked increase in ship traffic in the Arctic region and ultimately it’s becoming more relevant to run regularly large scale SAR exercises I gather. I understand that you’re making steps towards to a SAR agreement between the Arctic nations which will set up this type of regular SAR exercise routine in the area. Where are you up to with this?
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