March 19, 2015, Vancouver Island, B.C. - Mass casualties litter the rigid terrain in a remote location on northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Two hikers lie injured in a mountainous region inaccessible by road. And a small multi-engine aircraft is still missing along the coast of mainland British Columbia, the next of kin anxious for positive news of its location.
These are some of the training scenarios crews from Royal Canadian Air
Force 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron experienced during their annual
search and rescue exercise (SAREX) in Port Hardy, British Columbia, from
March 2 to 5, 2015.
A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter and two
CC-115 Buffalo aircraft, along with about 70 personnel from 19 Wing
Comox, participated in the exercise based out of Port Hardy Airport.
Over four days, search and rescue (SAR) crews honed their skills in
various facets of a major search scenario, a mock plane crash, and
casualty extractions. Training scenarios tested members’ capabilities
tracing an emergency locator beacon, parachuting to crash scenes,
administering emergency first aid, and evacuating several casualties
from remote areas.
“Annual training of this calibre is intended
to gather all units within the search and rescue squadron to one central
and off-site location, and test their knowledge and expertise in
responding to various scenarios,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Clint Mowbray,
442 Squadron commanding officer, who participated as one of the
Cormorant crew members during the exercise. “It is also an ideal
opportunity to work with other SAR agencies through the provision of
additional search assets, in the administration of medical first aid,
and in the extraction of casualties.”
Other agencies involved in
the 2015 SAREX in Port Hardy included the Canadian Coast Guard, Civil
Air Search and Rescue Association, the Port Hardy Volunteer Fire
Department, North Island Paramedics, and the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police Port Hardy Detachment.
442 Squadron is Joint Rescue
Coordination Centre Victoria’s primary means of responding to aviation
SAR incidents within the Victoria search and rescue Region (SRR). The
Victoria SRR comprises 920,000 square kilometres of mainly mountainous
terrain of British Columbia and Yukon, and extends about 600 nautical
miles offshore into the Pacific Ocean.
The airmen and airwomen
of 442 Squadron are extremely grateful to the Town of Port Hardy and to
Transport Canada for their hospitality, and for the use of the Port
Hardy Airport to conduct training and to set up a simulated search and
rescue headquarters. The squadron also acknowledges the hard work and
professionalism of its partnering agencies in making the 2015 SAREX a