Archive: Member Stories

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.

     

 

SEARCH AND RESCUE VOLUNTEER MEMORIAL UNVEILING THURSDAY MARCH 2/2017

SEARCH AND RESCUE VOLUNTEER MEMORIAL UNVEILING THURSDAY MARCH 2/2017

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: http://www.bcsara.com

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 CBC.ca

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/hall-beach-rescue-fluke-1.3999039

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.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/hall-beach-rescue-fluke-1.3999039

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/north/nwt-joe-black-missing-hunter-search-hercules-1.3997129 Continue reading

Red Deer CASARA Assists with High River Flood Clean-up

Tuesday, 9 July 2013, 3 aircraft departed Red Deer for High River with a total of 11 people on board, 8 of which were CASARA members. We had arranged for transportation from the airport to the town site upon our arrival. We had been warned about the sights we were about to see. When we stepped out of our cars, the first thing that hit us was the smell. The smell of must, mold, wet, and most of all, rotting food from all the freezers and fridges that had been left when the power went out was overpowering.

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High River disaster management had a Team Leader/liaison person set up to guide us around to our worksites.

Our first task was to assist an elderly couple load their household/life time possessions,  into a large dumpster.  The devastated owners were mentally incapable of doing anything. After that we went from door to door helping where we could. It was a huge shock looking down the streets of a new neighborhood, and seeing the entire contents of someone’s household, many of whom were elderly and retired, piled at the curbs (see pictures.) Once you “looked past” the piles of stuff, the houses looked very normal – UNTIL you went inside. In most cases the drywall and total contents were soaked from about 3 feet up the main floor wall, down and basements had been totally filled with water destroying everything. Must and mold were taking over and running ramped.  In many cases, new homes will have to be bulldozed and hauled away.

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In many cases elderly people just sat on chairs, starring at the garage floor, or driveway, totally bewildered at what had happened to them. For many of them, their lifetime sat in huge piles in front of them, rotting.

When we arrived at our staging area we were greeted and provided with all the necessary gear to protect us from bugs, mold, mud etc, they asked us where we were from. We told them that we were with CASARA and had flown in from Red Deer, a big cheer went up. One of the most moving things was that wherever we went, people would come out and thank us for coming. I have never been thanked so many times, by so many people in such a short time, in all my life.

CASARA members contributed a total of 88 volunteer hours, the costs associated with this effort for the flight down and back were donated by the involved members.

Story submitted by: Jim Thoreson, Red Deer CASARA

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