With hurricane season approaching, Cajun Navy Relief and Rescue is on the move, preparing with search and rescue exercises.
In the last two years, Cajun Navy Relief has rushed to the front lines in natural disasters.
They assisted government agencies in rescue missions during the historic flood that ravaged areas of Acadiana and Baton Rouge. In 2017, they stepped up for Hurricane Harvey.
While several groups take the title of Cajun Navy, leaders are hoping to organize the troops through technology.
"The Cajun Navy is a loose organization. You can consider it a movement. There’s lots of groups that have sprung up since 2016. The point is you get a free app. You put it on your phone, and now, you have instant communications with your assets out in the field wherever they are,” explained Cajun Navy Relief President Shawn Boudreaux.
Ahead of hurricane season, the organization is bringing together onshore dispatchers and skilled boaters to train and become more coordinated for future missions.
"What they are doing is training on the software, training on working together to be that much more efficient in being able to save lives in actual real-time disaster situations,” said Cajun Navy Relief Public Relations Representative Amy Jones.
On Saturday, they held a mock search and rescue mission where 600 flags, each representing a rescue, were spread across Henderson Bay.
Dispatchers gave the boaters coordinates to guide them to the locations as quickly as possible.
Whether it’s real-life scenarios or simulation, communication between all moving parties and recording accurate data can be paramount.
"We have channels upon channels upon channels, and we have different people in the organization known as dispatchers, and dispatchers monitor the channels and are able to take notes and keep records of who is where when they’re there, who records a rescue, etc.,” explained event marshal Nathan Rome.
Organizers from Cajun Navy Relief say uniting the organizations will lead to more coordinated rescues, which can be a matter of life or death.
Currently, there is a bill in the works that will require certifications for volunteers who want to be affiliated with the Cajun Navy.
"They just want to know that the people working with the state and federal agencies are credible. That way, you’re not sending out somebody that doesn’t belong to be put into certain situations,” said event marshal and media liaison Tyler Paul.