Search and Rescue (SAR), Canada

Search and Rescue (SAR), Canada

Canadian SAR Regions

One of the responsibilities of Canadian lighthouse keepers is to assist and help in Search and Rescue (SAR). They are part of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) and can be called upon to assist in a search at any time, be it for missing people in boats, aircraft, or other forms of transportation.

In fact lighthouse keepers, because of their location, are ideally situated to assist in SAR activities. It is too bad that the CCG does not promote this side of lighthouse activities, and provide better training and equipment. Most of the SAR activities done by lightkeepers are done with their own equipment – be it boats, radios, scanners, survival suits, etc. More on this in another post.

SAR is a large community in Canada, but a branch of SAR that is not too well known by the public, except for those involved, is CASARA (Civil Air Search and Rescue Association).1 

I know about CASARA only because my son is a volunteer in the organization. He loves it, and keeps me informed in emails with photos about his progress in training. Some photos I have posted below, showing part of his training.

To name a few of the available positions in CASARA there are spotters and navigators on private and Canadian military aircraft, pilots,  electronic search specialists, ground/operations crew, all the way up to the Executive.

CASARA 2011 Incident Map - click on map(s)

CASARA training is varied so it can not all be listed here, but some of it does include spotter and navigator training, aviation safety, survival training, first aid training, meteorology, swift water training, and much more, all so they can perform efficiently when a rescue is required, or when a rescue is too late, the removal of the deceased.

CASARA members work closely with the Canadian Forces (CF), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), Canadian Coast Guard Auxilliary (CCGA), the National Search and Rescue Secretariat, Transport Canada (TC), Environment Canada (EC), Parks Canada, and the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC).

If you live in Canada and wish to volunteer, contact your nearest local CASARA branch. Contact people are listed here, under “Contact CASARA” on the left-hand menu.

If you live in any country besides Canada, contact your nearest Search and Rescue agency for information.

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1 The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, or CASARA, is a Canada-wide volunteer aviation association dedicated to the promotion of Aviation Safety, and to the provision of air search support services to the National Search and Rescue Program.

Membership is open to aircraft owners and pilots, as well as to those who wish to receive training as spotters and navigators. Members receive training in fields such as aviation safety, meteorology, survival awareness search techniques and procedures. 

In April 1986 CASARA incorporated independent provincial and regional groups that were formed before to form a National Organization. Presently, CASARA operates in all thirteen (13) provinces and territories and has access to approximately 375 aircraft and has 2596 certified pilots, navigators and spotters to fill the positions of crewmember. Yearly, CASARA volunteers devote over 188,000 hours to help in the aid of others. 

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Retired (2001) British Columbia lighthouse keeper after 32 years on the lights.

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