Chinthe Squadron completes search and rescue exercise

435 Transport & Rescue Squadron Search and Rescue Technician, Sergeant Darcy Keating works with Civil Air Search and Rescue Association member Sami Alahdab during CHINTHEX 2018 near Thunder Bay Ontario. Photo: Private Hugo Montpetit, 17 Wing Imaging

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19 Wing Public Affairs

435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, a 19 Wing Comox unit based at Winnipeg, held their annual search and rescue (SAR) exercise at Thunder Bay, Ont., from May 23 to 27.

The exercise was dubbed CHINTHEX 18, to incorporate the nickname ‘Chinthe Squadron’, acquired while the squadron was flying in support of the Burma Campaign during the Second World War. A chinthe is a mythical creature described as half-lion, half-beast, imbued with a spirit and tenacity that continues to represent the squadron’s approach to operations today.

Thunder Bay was chosen as the location for the exercise to enable scenarios in more challenging terrain than what is typically found in southern Manitoba.

Many additional challenges arose before and during the exercise, including actual SAR missions, the evacuation of communities threatened by fires in northern Manitoba and Ontario, and flood relief operations in British Columbia.

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  • CHINTHEX 2018
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The exercise planners structured the training scenarios with a focus on multi-agency response.

“We’ve included as many of our search and rescue partners as possible in this exercise,” said Captain Morgan Strachan, the Exercise Director. “These exercises strengthen our ability to work more efficiently as a team, which is a contributing factor to success on actual missions.”

Scenarios included vessels and mariners in distress, lost and injured hunters, and downed or missing aircraft. The exercise culminated in a response scenario to a major air disaster (MAJAID), with a simulated aircraft crashing approximately 30 kilometres west of Thunder Bay with 22 persons on board.

The MAJAID event required a multi-agency response. SAR technicians parachuted onto the simulated crash scene to provide immediate care. Helicopters brought additional first responders, and casualties were extracted once stabilized. Ground search and rescue (GSAR) teams scoured the crash scene to ensure all passengers were found, and assisted first responders with casualty management.

The success of the exercise was due in large part to the flexibility of the planners who made daily adjustments to account for real-world events throughout the exercise, the tremendous support provided by the School of Aviation – Confederation College and the Thunder Bay Airport Authority, and most importantly, the dedication and professionalism of the participants.

The exercise involved several Canadian and American parties: 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 439 Combat Support Squadron (Bagotville), USAF 304th Rescue Squadron, the Civil Aviation Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), HMCS Griffon, The Lake Superior Scottish Regiment, 38 Signals Regiment, 18 Field Ambulance, 38 Service Battalion, RCMP, Canadian Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, Lakehead Search and Rescue, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests, Ornge Air Ambulance (Thunder Bay), Thunder Bay Airport Authority, and School of Aviation – Confederation College.

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