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

WATCH: Soon-to-be guide dogs take part in the Amazing Puppy Race

10 puppies training to be guide dogs took part in a social Easter egg hunt

Economic inequality, immigration still need work in Victoria: Prosperity index

Housing, environmental health factors show improvements in 2019: report

Annual Easter event continues to grow in Oak Bay

Organizers expect 800 to 1,200 people for seventh annual event on April 20

Victoria City Councillor Laurel Collins wins federal NDP nomination

Collins will run for Victoria in the upcoming federal election

Long weekend starts with series of crashes

The long weekend traffic pile up is starting with a series of… Continue reading

Victoria church bells toll in solidarity with Notre Dame Cathedral after devastating fire

Churches around the globe ring bells to honour iconic Paris cathedral

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

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

B.C. senior sentenced for sexually abusing special-needs granddaughter

73-year-old Cortes Island man will go to jail for three years

Howe Sound Queen sailing toward retirement

Vessel now up for auction ends regular runs between Crofton and Vesuvius at the beginning of June

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Most Read