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Former South Australia police officer helps save maritime lives

Watch the video of Mark Jacobs who has hung up his snorkel and fins to help save lives across 10 per cent of the Earth’s surface.
marc jacobs

Adelaide’s Mark Jacobs, who spent just under three decades with the South Australia Police is now a search and rescue officer working with in the AMSA Response Centre; helping save mariners in distress.

Mark said that his background within the water police and diving unit has assisted in his new role assisting in maritime safety. 

“The AMSA Response Centre is a 24/7 area of responsibility where we assist the public in emergency situations, either at sea or in the aviation sector as well,” Mark said. 

“I like my role here because I can help people in their time of need when they probably can’t help themselves. 

“An example of the kind of work we do here is a rescue I was involved in at the end of last year. I received a phone call from a Reef VTS Centre who informed me that a ships pilot traversing in the Torres Strait, had seen two people clinging to a piece of timber in the ocean.

“So they did a turn, it takes a little while for a ship that size to do a turn as you can imagine, and simultaneously we activated a rescue helicopter from Horn Island, as well as AMSA’s Cairns Based Challenger to go out to the scene. Mark Jacobs

“The ship managed to lift one of the people from the water but at that time the helicopter was very close by, so it also winched the other gentleman out of the water. 

“As we later found out, their boat had sunk the day before at 4pm and it wasn’t until the next day at 7am that they were seen.  So, they were out there in the ocean, clinging to a bit of wood all night.

“For me, this was an interesting rescue because it was really just because of great timing and coincidence that a ship was passing through and saw them. 

“This is why safety equipment, such as beacons, are so important. As they give people a chance to notify us in the AMSA Response Centre that they are in distress and we can help coordinate a rescue. These gentlemen in this scenario were very lucky.”

Mark said that since moving to Canberra and working within the response centre, he had been very impressed with the diverse backgrounds all his fellow search and rescue officers have.

“One thing I would like people to know about the AMSA Response Centre is that the people who work here have had a lot of experience, either in the aviation industry or within the maritime industry. 

“It’s that experience that lends us to giving a very professional and very thoughtful response in emergency situations. 

“This job is really rewarding in that you are helping the community when they need you. There are some great stories that come out of it, great stories of survival but as well as that there are some not so great stories as well.”

Learn more about the AMSA Response Centre

Last updated: 3 May 2022