SAR skills built through typical training day

First Officer Captain Maxime Chevalier manoeuvres a search and rescue aircraft over the Cascapedia River Valley, in Québec. PHOTO: Corporal Neil Clarkson, GD05-2018-0060-020

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By Sara White

A search and rescue crew on board one of 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia’s CC-130 Hercules aircraft conducted a typical training day last month, leaving the airfield with a simple scenario that nevertheless covered some complex tasks.

First thing in the morning on January 22, 2018, 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron crew commander Captain Sebastien Roy gathered his day’s crew to determine their flight plan. The day’s goal: train the crew with a simulated search and finalize the scenario with some simulated equipment drops and search and rescue (SAR) technician parachute jumps.

“The Cascapedia River Valley, near Bonaventure in Quebec, is a great place for training, and the spot that we used for this scenario was challenging due to the fact that it is surrounded by mountains,” he said. “We can practise valley searches and simulate challenging scenarios.”

Off they went.

“Usually, on a real mission, we are tasked to search for something – aircraft, people, boats, etc. In this case, we planned on a valley search. When you find something or someone, you need to get in contact with them, so we open the aircraft’s ramp and drop a radio [to them]. From there, we can confirm if those people are in distress and go from there.”

In this scenario, the crew simulated casualties in need of medical assistance on the valley floor. They practised a supply drop of medical equipment, and follow-on SAR tech jumps. Within their trades, personnel have many different certifications they have to keep current. On training flights, they have the opportunity to check off some of them including safety- and equipment-related training or changes or upgrades to the technology they use.

“This is a typical SAR training day,” Captain Roy said, “[but any mission] changes day by day, depending on the weather and specific currencies requirements.”

Sara White is the managing editor of the “Aurora” newspaper.

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