The Water Search and Rescue Department of the Hellenic Rescue Team was staffed and began its activities in 2000 by members of the Team who were involved with the sea and, more generally, with water.
Beginning its activities with rather meagre means, the Water Search and Rescue Department is now one of the HRT’s central departments. Its mission is to search and rescue in the sea, rivers, lakes, in regions and fields that are experiencing floods and, in general, wherever water is a hazard to human life.
The department is staffed by experienced pilots of speedboats, lifeguards, swiftwater rescuers, sailors, scuba divers, and support staff.
The department’s equipment includes inflatable speed lifeboats, diving equipment, special equipment for swiftwater rescue, first aid equipment and telecommunications equipment. Its members undergo continuous training, both with exercises that are held within the department and through joint training activities with other agencies that are active in water search and rescue, such as the Port Police, the Coast Guard, the Air Force and the Civil Protection Service. It also works with private professional trainers who have a high-level of training in their field and with foreign search and rescue organisations.
The department, in addition to its activities on an operational level, is active in other areas, such as providing protection at sailing, swimming and rowing races and canoeing and kayaking competitions. It also provides information to schools, associations and sailing clubs on the dangers one might face at sea and near water in general.
The Water Search and Rescue Department has been significantly strengthened in terms of equipment, training and boats by the largest member organisations of the International Maritime Rescue Federation, such as the Norwegian RS, the British RNLI, the Swedish SSRS, the German DGzRS and the Dutch KNRM. It should also be noted that the HRT currently has 18 lifeboats, fully equipped and ready to respond to search and rescue operations at sea.