442 Squadron conducts SAREX 18

Search and Rescue Technicians assist a simulated casualty
Search and Rescue Technicians assist a simulated casualty during SAREX 18. Photo by: Cpl Joey Beaudin, 19 Wing Imaging

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19 Wing Public Affairs

Long Beach Airport near Tofino, B.C. was the base for SAREX 18 – Search and Rescue Exercise 2018 –  from February 26 to March 1.

442 Transport and Rescue Squadron conducts an annual SAREX to practice deploying the squadron quickly and effectively to a severe operating location, as would happen during a major search. The exercise provides training at all levels within the squadron, and is an opportunity to build relationships with local organisations involved in search and rescue (SAR).

435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, a 19 Wing unit based out of Winnipeg, also participated, adding the capability of CC-130H Hercules and crew to the exercise.

SAREX takes place in February, historically the least busy month for SAR responses. That said, stand-by SAR crews must always be ready to respond to an actual event while deployed.

Designed to be realistic, the training scenarios which took place day and night are based on actual rescues, and often include responses by multiple agencies. The scenarios in Tofino were primarily maritime in nature, such as a vessel at sea taking on water, an overturned vessel with passengers and crew in the water, and an injured windsurfer on a remote beach.

Mother Nature threw down some challenges of her own, requiring participants to deal with passing storms, snow squalls, icing conditions, and rough seas.

Training locations were purposefully located away from communities and park attractions around Pacific Rim National Park to ensure residents and visitors of Tofino and Ucluelet would notice little more than an increase in local air traffic.

In addition to military SAR personnel, the exercise included key partners from the RCMP, the Canadian Coast Guard, Parks Canada, BC Parks, Royal Canadian Marine SAR, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), the United States Coast Guard, and the Tofino Airport Authority.

Image gallery

  • A Search and Rescue Technician jumps out of a CC115 Buffalo
  • Search and Rescue Technicians load a stretcher in a CH149 Cormorant
  • Search and Rescue Technicians assist a simulated casualty
  • Search and Rescue Technicians parachute out of a CC130 Hercules
  • A rigid-hulled inflatable boat recover Search and Rescue technicians
  • A CH149 Cormorant hovers near a simulated vessel in distress
  • A Search and Rescue Technician collects equipment from a bundle drop
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