Greater Victoria hosts 40 agencies in major search and rescue exercise

Annual SAREX search and rescue training exercise is underway, based out of Victoria airport

442 Transport and Rescue Squadron are conducting a series of practice scenarios as part of their annual search and rescue training exercise (SAREX). The exercise is based at Victoria Airport from Tuesday through Thursday, Feb. 7.

Major Kristen Simpson is commanding the exercise, which utilizes three aircraft, 73 military personnel and co-ordinates 40 different military and civilian agencies. The aircraft being used are a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter, a CC-115 Buffalo and a CC-138 Twin Otter, fixed-wing aircraft.

ALSO READ: Flares used in Greater Victoria training exercise prompt 911 call

All three aircraft are easily recognizable by their distinctive yellow paint schemes, although the exercise’s training scenarios are mostly out of public view.

Simpson, who is an aerospace engineer, likens her role to that of a ‘momma bear’, conscientiously looking after the personnel under her command. She operates from a ‘Joint rescue coordination cell’ and oversees the administration, discipline and execution of the exercise. She is assisted by the Search Master, who is responsible for directing the search. Simpson notes that the exercise is progressing as intended and that all agencies are working well together. “We are trying to simulate on-scene decision making. Adapt and react.” she added.

A snapshot of the training was last night’s mission, which involved the specialist Search and Rescue Technicians, known as SAR Techs.

The brief was a simulated medical rescue. A vessel had sunk three nautical miles off the coast. With little information, the specialist crews were scrambled to locate and attend the ‘sailors in distress.’ Inside just 1.30hrs, they found the crew’s liferaft, illuminated the cold February night with flares, and had quickly assessed a combination of factors that contribute to the ‘survivability’ of themselves and the distressed.

Master Corporal, Nathan Seal described how his team of SAR Techs were flown over the area in the Buffalo and parachuted from the aircraft, wearing full scuba gear, at 3000ft. Once they had swum and clambered aboard the liferaft, they provided first-aid and the five sailors were then winched to safety by the Cormorant helicopter.

Simpson said that the SAR Techs’ motto is ‘So others may live’ and apart from being trained in parachuting, they are also highly trained in paramedicine, cold-weather survival and mountain rescue.

Captain Sean Petrie, who has planned and organized some of the logistical support, also has the difficult job of operating the hoist on the Cormorant helicopter. He explained the purpose of the training. “You have Currencies and Proficiencies. Currencies are keeping your skills up. Proficiencies are getting excellent at those skills and challenging yourself to learn new things and do them in different ways.”

442 Transport and Rescue Squadron maintain operational vigilance during the exercises and can conceivably be called away to mount a real rescue.

Petrie says the more realistic the training, the better he performs.”It’s using our skills on a daily basis, when the call comes in and we have to hook, that’s what we do.”

nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Pipeline protestors plan march as Trudeau gives Trans Mountain the go-ahead,

20 kilometre march to protest the pipeline starts in Victoria, ends on Saanich Peninsula

Convicted drug trafficker asks Victoria courtroom for chance to ‘turn this around’

Horst Schirmer sentenced for convictions on five counts of possession related to trafficking

$11 million overdraw for McKenzie Interchange construction

The project has been delayed multiple times and is now estimating a budget of $96 million

Alzheimer Society calls for helpline volunteers in Greater Victoria

Charity is in ‘urgent need’ as calls on the rise

Summer transit route increases hit Greater Victoria hotspots starting July 1

Canada Day routes operate on Sunday-level service with select late-night service

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

The federal government announced Tuesday its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

VIDEO: Firefighters stop blaze from spreading after BMW crashes at Saratoga Speedway

Victoria-based businessmen were ‘corner training’ on Father’s Day when incident took place

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Most Read