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Who’s responsible for Awareness

Page updated: 27 November 2020

The Incident Controller is responsible for all parts of Awareness.

An Incident Controller is appointed by the coordinating authority, when that authority is notified

If a SAR coordinating authority receives a call about an incident, that authority assumes incident control. The person who calls is known as the informant.

A dedicated Incident Controller will be appointed.


The Incident Controller gathers and analyses information

If you’re the Incident Controller, you need to:

  • gather the name and contact details of the informant
  • gather enough information from the informant to allow analysis of the incident
  • record all information about the incident
  • follow your usual internal processes, including your readiness plan
  • analyse information to decide if a SAR response is needed.

You may also need to take other time-critical initial actions, such as alerting a rescue helicopter.

As Incident Controller, you are responsible for all parts of Awareness. However, you can delegate activities to other people.

Responsibility can be transferred between coordinating authorities

Transfer can only happen if:

  • the coordinating authority who wants to transfer responsibility for a SAR operation lets the other coordinating authority know as soon as possible
  • both coordinating authorities agree about the transfer.


An Incident Controller exists throughout a SAR operation

The role of Incident Controller may be passed between individuals within coordinating authorities and between coordinating authorities by mutual agreement, but someone is always in the role. Whoever is in the role at any one time has overall responsibility for the incident.


Call the coordinating authority if you are from a SAR partner agency

If you’re from a SAR partner agency and you think a SAR response is needed, you must contact the coordinating authority.

The two coordinating authorities in New Zealand are:

  • New Zealand Police (call 111) — for Category 1 incidents (land, inland waterways, subterranean, and close-to-shore)
  • Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (call 0508 4 RCCNZ or 0508 472 269) — for Category 2 incidents (aircraft, off-shore, and emergency locator beacons).

The person you speak to at the coordinating authority becomes the Incident Controller once you’ve briefed them about the situation.

Need to report someone lost or missing? call 111 - Ask for police