Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) squadrons from across Canada are participating in their annual National Search and Rescue Exercise, SAREX 2016, from September 18 to 24, 2016, in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Involving nearly 200 participants, the training brings together the Canadian Armed Forces with civilian search and rescue communities, including the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), and other first responders to standardize and evaluate skills. This event follows on the heels of previous successful SAREX events in Gimli, Manitoba (2013), Goose Bay, Newfoundland (2014) and Comox, British Columbia (2015). “For the first time, the National SAREX will experience and overcome the challenges of Search and Rescue in the Northwest Territories, which will provide an exciting Search and Rescue environment. Together, we hope to exercise and showcase all of the important and unique skills of our professional and volunteer organizations,” said Colonel Patrick Thauberger, Commander, 14 Wing Greenwood.
Exercise aims include aerial and ground searches, medical responses, parachute accuracy, as well as land and marine rescues.
Search and rescue response in Canada involves several provincial and government departments, including Public Safety Canada, the Department of National Defence, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Transport Canada. A number of volunteer organizations such as CASARA and non-governmental organizations such as STARS (the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) regularly assist in search and rescue operations.
|14 Sep – Sergeant Chad Hildebrant surveys the land before Search and Rescue Technicians, Warrant Officer Norm Penny and Master Corporal Ashley Barker parachute out of a Twin Otter aircraft during the National Search and Rescue Exercise 2015 (SAREX15) held at Comox, British Columbia. (Photo: Sgt Halina Folfas, 19 Wing Imaging)|
CAF resources may also assist in ground search and rescue (GSAR) efforts, medical evacuations, and other humanitarian incidents if requested by the responsible provincial/territorial or municipal authority. The Canadian Rangers, Reserve Force members of the CAF, regularly aid in GSAR upon request in sparsely settled regions of the country.
Approximately one third of the RCAF’s 150 Search and Rescue Technicians are participating in the exercise. Others are on duty and maintaining a 24-hour standby at their respective squadrons around the country.
RCAF squadrons and organizations participating include:
103 Search and Rescue Squadron, 9 Wing Gander, Newfoundland;
413 Transport and Rescue Squadron,14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia;
417 Combat Support Squadron, 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta;
424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario;
435 Transport and Rescue Squadron,17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba;
439 Combat Support Squadron, 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec;
440 Transport Squadron, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories;
442 Transport and Rescue Squadron,19 Wing Comox, British Columbia;
The Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue, Comox; and
Representatives from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers from Victoria,Trenton and Halifax.
A variety of RCAF aircraft will be utilized during the exercise, including:
The CH-149 Cormorant helicopter;
The CC-115 Buffalo;
The CH-146 Griffon helicopter;
The CC-130 Hercules; and
The CC-138 Twin Otter.
Other organizations participating formally in the exercise include the following:
Public Safety Canada;
Fisheries and Oceans Canada;
Environment and Climate Change Canada;
The Canadian Rangers;
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA);
The Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS); and
The Yellowknife Airport.