On Sept 25 CASARA Yellowknife supported an exercise with DND, the RCMP, CCGA and Yellowknife Search and Rescue as part of Operation NANOOK TATIGIIT. Op TATIGIIT is a whole of government response to a major NWT natural disaster. The event simulated, among other things, the evacuation of the community of Behchokǫ̀ to Yellowknife.  Behchokǫ̀ is located 100 km down the shore from Yellowknife on Great Slave Lake. As part of the evacuation, 2 boats with a total of 9 people “self evacuated” but hit a rock and didn’t make it to Yellowknife.

The RCMP received a simulated distress call from the family providing an approximate location and situation description. The RCMP tasked CASARA to located  the vessels. Our Search Coordinator retasked a crew that we happened to have in the air at the time and we were able to be at the Commence Search Point within 5 minutes of being tasked (the rarity of this occurring in real life was made clear). We then located a possible target to be investigated within 15 minutes. The relevant information and photographs were relayed to the RCMP’s exercise Incident Commander by text and email. He then tasked the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and YK SAR (a volunteer ground search organization based in Yellowknife) to investigate.  They arrived on scene an hour and a quarter later and we were able to direct them to target via VHF FM radio. Unfortunately, we were at bingo fuel by then and had to return to base before any “rescues” occurred. Since we were on floats, we could have landed and investigated ourselves, but that would have ruined everyone else’s fun.

These photos were all taken at 1000 AGL with our Canon Rebel T6 camera. They have been resized and cropped for web display. Notice how difficult it is to see people in the overview picture, this reflects what a person can see looking from the air. The first thing we saw was the boat. Notice the detail available in the third picture. Can you see all five people? They weren’t all noticeable using just the eyeball alone.



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