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CASARA Makes History!

From June 30 to July 2nd CASARA, for the first time ever joined 424 (T&R) Squadron, 8 Wing, CFB Trenton at an international airshow held at Traverse City Michigan (KTVC).  Picking up crews from around Ontario proved challenging due to weather. The CASARA contingent from CARES Zone 11 Niagara, flew a Cessna 337 Skymaster and was forced to leave the night before to pick up Adam Hill from CASARA London, Ontario and then the next day divert to KMBS (Saginaw) en route to KANJ (Sanderson MI near Sault Ste Marie) to clear US Customs. The 424 Squadron aircraft, a Hercules CC-130H, attempted to pick up our crew at KANJ but it too was forced to adapt to the changing weather and finally land at KCIU (Chippewa) where they were able to pick up our final member (Wayne Spencer from CASARA Sault Ste. Marie) for the airshow and clear US Customs. A CH146 Griffon helicopter also made the trip but again due to weather was forced to delay its arrival until after seven pm that day.
Upon arriving at KTVC we found ourselves in good company with the hospitality of the Traverse City Coast Guard Station where we were eventually positioned fittingly under the wing of our Hercules. A variety of US aircraft were in attendance including A-10 Thunderbolts, The US demonstration team, The Thunderbirds flying F-16’s, F-18 Super Hornets and the odd Blackhawk helicopter. It was quite a display! The CASARA aircraft acted as a static disply while the Herc and Griffon flew flypasts on both days with CASARA Spotters onboard. It was a very successful weekend for both 424 and CASARA.

A second reason for attending was to check out the CAP (Civil Air Patrol) at Alpena two and a half hours away. Our CLO, Capt. Claude Courcelles accompanied by the AC for the Cessna Skymaster, Gord Tessier along with the Navigator, Alex Cuberovic made the trek to Alpena where they spent the next day observing CAP’s cadet training program, discussing CAP technology and learning everything we could about CAP. Essentially taking their best practices to see if we can adopt any of them to CASARA. In the end it was discovered that CAP and CASARA are very much alike. The sense of volunteerism among their memebers is par excellence. They truly reflect what is best about America and they made us feel very welcome. We will continue to learn and exchange ideas with our southern neighbours. After sharing a meal with them we departed the next day back to Traverse City. We left for home but were again challenged by the weather forcing us to leave our crew member, Wayne Spencer about an hour south of where we had planned. In the end, everyone made it safely home.

It was an historic weekend for CASARA and we look forward to many more opportunities to share best practices and improve our already good relations with our Amercian SAR partners.

As we approached Canadian Airspace we were soberley reminded of just why we were there.   A controller calmly but with a sense of urgency was calling out, looking for an aircrft that as he described it,  was officialy reported as overdue. As we neared Grand Bend my Spotter received a text indicating that one of our own Hercules was involved in a search on the west end of Lake Erie after a distress call was made and an overturned canoe was discovered.

“That others may live”

Below are a few photos from the event.





The British Columbia Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA), Provincial Emergency Program Air (PEP Air), and Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) are establishing a memorial ‘In memory of those who died in the line of duty, and to honour all that serve’.

Members of BCSARA, PEP Air, RCMSAR, and other Search and Rescue organizations and agencies are invited to attend the unveiling of the Search and Rescue Volunteer Memorial on March 02, 2017 at noon on the grounds of the Parliament Buildings in Victoria British Columbia.

The Search and Rescue Volunteer Memorial Committee requests all attendees be in place by 1145hrs.

Members are requested to wear uniform or outerwear indentifying their organization. As the weather can be variable in March we recommend attendees dress warm, bring waterproof outerwear in case of rain, and good footwear for a grass surface.

The ceremony will be available live online at:

Please join us for this important event to honour our fallen and all those who serve.

‘Luckiest 2 guys in the Arctic’ rescued by military plane training for search and rescue

Feb 25, 2017 From

A Royal Canadian Air Force Twin Otter crew out for some search-and-rescue training accidentally found — and rescued — two Nunavut hunters on the land.

Thom Doelman, a captain with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Yellowknife, said the crew was flying near Hall Beach, Nunavut, during Operation Nunalivut, a sovereignty exercise that happens each year in Canada’s North.

Thursday afternoon’s training exercise was a search mission at an old mine site.

Once the Twin Otter crew found the mine from rough co-ordinates, Doelman began an expanding-square pattern to survey the tundra.

That’s when from his window, Cpl. Jason MacKenzie saw something he didn’t expect — a person who possible needed help.

“As you can imagine, we were shocked to hear this,” said Doelman.

By the time the plane returned for a second pass, there were two people waving on the sea ice.

“We assessed it as a crew,” Doelman said, recalling that they only had about 30 minutes before it would be too dark to attempt a landing.

“We didn’t know of any missing persons, but we felt that given that it’s the Arctic, given that it was about to get dark, that we couldn’t continue back to Hall Beach without checking on these guys.”

The captain had never landed on sea ice with wheels on the plane instead of the skis, so he did what’s called a “nose-off drag” where the main tires are dragged along the ice to check that it could hold the plane’s weight.

Once Doelman landed beside the pair’s makeshift shelter, he immediately began preparing the plane to take off again. He estimated they had 15 minutes on the ground before it would be too dark to take off.

They invited the two hunters on board and quickly took off again for Hall Beach.

Doelman offered them food and hot water when they asked if he had found their friend.

“At this point my heart sank because to find out there was a third guy out there, it was unbelievable,” he said.

The three had been on the land for three days.

Two adults and a teen — Tyler Amarualik, Lloyd Satuqsi, and Eugene Gibbons — had been on a hunting trip about 40 kilometres south of Hall Beach when their snowmobile broke down. They tried to activate their SPOT device, but it didn’t work.

Gibbons and Amarualik made a temporary shelter while Satugsi started to walk back in the direction of town. But Gibbons and Amarualik hadn’t heard from their friend — or seen any sign of a rescue crew — in two days.

Doelman says the pair thought his Twin Otter crew was looking for them.

“I was very happy I was going home, because I wasn’t sure if I was going home, sleeping outside, fearing that we weren’t going to be found,” Gibbons, 15, said in Inuktitut.

Ground search

After picking the two up, it was too dark to search — not to mention the plane was low on fuel — so Doelman called ahead to the Hall Beach airport for the RCMP, who, with the hamlet, organized a ground search.

They found Satuqsi near Hall Beach Friday morning around 4:30 a.m.

He was flown to Iqaluit for hypothermia and frostbite, but is in stable condition.

The other two had some minor frostbite on their toes, but are otherwise in good health.

“They’re the luckiest two guys in the Arctic that I know,” said Doelman.

“[Search and rescue] is not our squadron’s primary mission but we still train for it and practice it. It proves why we have to train to be ready for something like this.”




Feb 24, 2017: CASARA Search Success

Royal Canadian Air Force personnel transfer Joe Black from a Hercules C-130 to a waiting ambulance at the Yellowknife airport. Black was missing for days near MacKay Lake before being spotted by searchers Wednesday. (submitted by Capt. Jeffrey McIsaac/RCAF)

A hunter who was found Wednesday after being missing more than 50 hours on the barrenlands is recovering today in Stanton Territorial Hospital.

Joe Black, 65, of Behchoko, N.W.T., became separated from his hunting companions and was caught in a snowstorm shortly after noon Monday.

Black was spotted near Murdock Lake Wednesday by a community member on board a helicopter with Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) spotters. The helicopter was able to land and pick him up.

Black was then taken to the Gahcho Kue diamond mine airstrip, where he was transferred to a Hercules C-130 that was also involved in the search.

Military search and rescue technicians on board the Hercules provided Black with medical attention during the flight to Yellowknife.

RCMP said Thursday that a conservative estimate of the number of people involved with the search would be 80 to 90 people, including community members from Whati and Behchoko, CASARA spotters, Royal Canadian Air Force crew, Gahcho Kue mine staff, winter road staff, Air Tindi, ACASTA Heli Flights and RCMP. Yellowknife ground search and rescue were also on standby.
Helping Black make it home safely had an effect on the experienced RCAF crew.

“We train all the time for this sort of mission and we always hope for success, so when we see this and experience it, it makes us feel really good about the jobs that we do every day,” said Capt. Jeffrey McIsaac.

“We all really love the jobs that we’re in, and this is why.”

McIsaac said it took the Hercules half an hour to make the 280-kilometre trip from Gahcho Kue to Yellowknife.

with files from Alex Brockman

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Volunteering: the essence of CASARA

By Captain Nicole Meszaros, 8 Wing Public Affairs Officer

The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, or CASARA, is a Canada-wide volunteer aviation association dedicated to the promotion of Aviation Safety, and to the provision of air search support services to the National Search and Rescue Program.

Comprised of approximately 2800 volunteers nation-wide, these men and women actively augment the Canadian Forces’ primary Search and Rescue (SAR) assets during SAR missions by supplying spotters for military search aircraft but also by providing pilots, navigators and aircraft when called upon to do so by any of the three Joint Rescue Coordination Centres (JRCC) in Canada.

All CASARA volunteers are certified by the organization to ensure a high level of service can be provided to the CF but also to ensure that those in need have high quality professionals searching for them. CASARA volunteers willingly agree to participate in searches when environments are challenging and weather conditions are adverse.

“The essence of being a volunteer is that you cannot demand their service, the CASARA member has to volunteer because they want to”, said John Davidson, President of CASARA. “We encourage a positive approach towards our volunteers because the most valuable commodity they give us is time.”

An average of 1,000 hours each year has been flown on actual search operations since the association’s inception in 1986. “Our people have volunteered approximately 200,000 hrs last year to be trained and on stand-by for the JRCCs or whoever needs us,” Mr Davidson said.

Mr Davidson explained that one of the association’s greatest contributions to CF SAR assets is the local knowledge that the pilots, navigators, spotters, ground personnel and coordinators have of their respective areas. “Our members might know of an airplane in an area so that if emergency locator transmitter goes of, we might have a good idea of where to look.”

This local knowledge may have the effect of quickly ending a search or allowing CF aircraft to not participate thereby reducing the workload on SAR squadrons.

The president acknowledged that working alongside the Canadian Forces poses certain challenges but that there exists pride in helping on CF SAR missions. “The whole reason we are there is to assist the military when resources are short and to reduce the workload when the CF needs something to maintain them through tough times,” Mr Davidson said. “The volunteers are proud they can provide this service and fiercely proud of serving with the Canadian Forces.”

In September, 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron hosted the National Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) at 22 Wing/CFB North Bay. The goal of National SAREX was to help SAR squadrons and CASARA units from across the country work together to in a common environment and to allow them to test their standards and evaluate their proficiency.

CASARA units fared well at the exercise with the Yarmouth CASARA team winning the award for team spirit, proof the positive approach towards volunteering is successful.

What Will You Find on Scene?

By Paul D. Turner, CARES Niagara

As a Search and Rescue emergency response organization, each and every member must be prepared for what he / she might find on-scene. Most of the time we spend our time at cold, dark, and often deserted airports or other such locations during a SAR Actual tasking. Tracking what most members expect to be yet another one of those ELT / EPIRB false alerts we generally respond to. We train in a manner where little consideration is given to what searchers might very well find when he / she arrives at the scene of an actual air, marine, or ground related accident.

Members who are called out on SAR Actual searches may be the first SAR response personnel to arrive at what might be, an extremely disturbing sight and experience, for those not prepared for what is likely to be found. Although the preservation of life is usually the first consideration – SAFETY must be a priority for anyone approaching such a scene. The contamination or destruction of evidence is yet another issue to be considered by the responding crew.

That soft ground below you might very well be the remains of a crew member or passenger of the ill fated flight. Do you know how you might be effected by such a scene? How would you react? It is best to consider these issues now before facing such a situation. Think about it – Talk about it – Mentally prepare yourself to take a PRIORITY ACTION APPROACH to manage the scene. What must be done immediately? What can wait? Is it Safe? Am I qualified? What are the unseen hazards? Will my actions endanger myself, and / or others, or make the situation worse?

Potential hazards include, the possibility of fire, explosion, shock hazard, hot fluids such as hydraulic or engine oil, battery acid, pressurized oxygen, sharp metal sections of the air-frame, and weapon or ejection systems on military aircraft. Don’t forget about the possibility of a hazardous cargo, and sometimes firearms or ammunition from a survival kit.

One must also remember that ground based hazards are also likely to be present in some locations. It is also possible that victims and debris are likely to be scattered over a large area, perhaps even caught over-head in trees or wires – Definitely a hazard worth looking up to. Don’t forget that hydro wires may have been taken down in the flight path of the aircraft. These are just some of the reasons that may present an overwhelming problem for civilian SAR response personnel with limited rescue training.

I have often heard people discuss walking up to a down aircraft to do the honourable and gallant – Lets save a life first and worry about the repercussions later – WRONG attitude! I can assure you that these are the people who endanger all our lives, the lives of possible survivors, and could be the down fall of civilian SAR response. First and foremost – Communicate immediately with the objective of getting the appropriate emergency services to the accident scene. Along with this objective is making an assessment of the situation.

This is absolutely necessary to ensure the preservation of life – Yours, mine, and those persons who were fortunate enough to have survived the accident. This is why you must give top priority to assessing the situation, and making absolutely certain that the appropriate safety precautions are taken at every step. If you fail to do so, you could easily, (and most likely will) make the situation worse, perhaps with considerable injury or loss of life. Although the following is a guideline only, since every accident scene will be a unique situation, it is recommended that all members review and understand these guidelines.

Exceptional judgment and common sense must be applied. Communicate immediately with emergency services, rescue personnel, and the Search Coordinator, or JRCC, and be sure to provide as much information as possible to the responding authorities about the location, situation, access, and approximate number of victims involved. Don’t forget to identify yourself and your tasking. Carefully assess the area for potential hazards, and do what you can to make the area safe, or DO NOT enter the area. There are many reasons for not entering the area, these generally include fire, heavy smoke, downed power lines, and natural hazards such as terrain or water. Do not smoke, or carry flares anywhere near the accident scene.

Remain well clear of any spills such as oil, fuel, or unidentified substances. Allow only the most essential personnel near the accident scene, it is both unacceptable, and there is absolutely no need for the entire crew to be walking through the accident scene. If it is necessary, do not wander aimlessly through the accident scene, move with purpose, taking care to avoid injury or contaminating what might be a crime scene. The Contribution Agreement currently in force specifically states in section 3.5 SAFETY – The Department of National Defence shall, insofar as possible, ensure the Federal authorities are aware that CASARA members retain the right to decline to participate in any activity which may jeopardize the safety of any person or aircraft.

Identify locations where survivors may be trapped or located, and only if you have determined it is safe to approach. Render the appropriate first-aid, which will likely be somewhat limited if survivors are trapped.

Use psychological first-aid techniques to calm survivors as is required. Maintain a detailed log of your actions on scene, remember your ability to recall information from memory will be limited after the incident is under control. The sooner information is committed to written form, the better. This information, and all other documentation, will become part of the official investigation for Transport Canada accident investigators, law enforcement personnel, and possibly used during litigation proceedings. Be sure to keep your thoughts, and notes clear and organized, without opinion, state only facts which you know to be true, hearsay and gossip must never be included as fact. Avoid disturbing the accident scene to the best of your ability, and be sure to preserve evidence which might assist the accident investigators, or other authorities.

If the scene cannot be approached, direct your energy to making the area accessible for responding authorities by moving the communication vehicle and any bystanders to a safe location and get lights on to make the area as bright as possible, and if appropriate get barricade tape up around the area to keep bystanders away . Once emergency personnel are on scene, immediately provide them with as much information about the hazards, survivors, and location of bodies that you may have discovered, as well as any other important information you might have.

Arriving on scene to find wide spread wreckage, seriously injured passengers, and fatalities can be an extremely disturbing and traumatic experience for even highly trained professional emergency personnel. It is therefore important that you give every consideration to training and preparing yourself for what could be the one time in your life when you really need to remain calm and act with confidence and professional ability.

Know your limitations, accept your limitations, and accept the awesome responsibility to which you have committed yourself by volunteering for the tasking of a SAR Actual. If you don’t believe you could handle what might be found – Don’t volunteer for SAR Actual tasking, there are lots of other areas in which you might be of assistance, other than on a search crew.