Chapter 4: Operating procedures
4.1 Preparatory measures
4.1.1 Each rescue co-ordination centre and rescue sub-centre shall have available up-to-date information especially concerning search and rescue facilities and available communications relevant to search and rescue operations in its area.
4.1.2 Each rescue co-ordination centre and rescue sub-centre should have ready access to information regarding the position, course, and speed of vessels within its area which may be able to provide assistance to persons, vessels or other craft in distress at sea, and regarding how to contact them. This information should either be kept in the rescue co-ordination centre, or be readily obtainable when necessary.
4.2 Information concerning emergencies
4.2.3 Any authority or element of the search and rescue service having reason to believe that a person, a vessel or other craft is in a state of emergency shall forward as soon as possible all available information to the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre concerned.
4.3 Initial action
Any search and rescue unit receiving information of a distress incident shall initially take immediate action if in the position to assist and shall, in any case without delay, notify the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue subcentre in whose area the incident has occurred.
4.7 On-scene co-ordination of search and rescue activities
4.7.1 The activities of search and rescue units and other facilities in search and rescue operations shall be co-ordinated on-scene to ensure most effective results.
4.7.2 When multiple facilities are about to engage in search and rescue operations, and the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre considers it necessary, the most capable person should be designated as onscene co-ordinator as early as practicable and preferably before the facilities arrive within the specified area of operation. Specific responsibilities shall be assigned to the on-scene co-ordinator. into account the apparent capabilities of the on-scene co-ordinator and operational
4.7.3 If there is no responsible rescue co-ordination centre or, for any reason, the responsible rescue co-ordination centre is unable to co-ordinate the search and rescue mission, the facilities involved should designate an on-scene co-ordinator by mutual agreement.
SAR Convention (1979) : http://www.imo.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/IndexofIMOResolutions/Maritime-Safety-Committee-(MSC)/Documents/MSC.70(69).pdf