Canadian Forces do search and rescue training near Iqaluit
Crew from JRCC Greenwood using CH-149 Cormorant
A small crew of people with the Canadian Forces started their first Arctic training exercise Jan. 30 about nine kilometres northwest of Iqaluit with members from the Canadian Rangers and the Civilian Air Search and Rescue Association.
“They’ve been trying to get up to do this exercise outside of Iqaluit for quite some time,” said Capt. John Pulchny, a public affairs officer at the 14 Wing Greenwood air base in Nova Scotia.
The search and rescue unit in Greenwood operates a CH-149 Cormorant and a Hercules aircraft.
Their search and rescue responsibility covers an area of about 1.8 million square miles, covering the Atlantic coast and much of the eastern Arctic.
Arctic training is necessary because each search and rescue operation requires different skills and one of those is being able to operate in the Arctic, Pulchny said.
“It’s very important, because we’ve got to be able to operate in all different conditions, whether it’s in the Arctic or [not],” he said.
“One of the things they [the six person crew] have noticed as part of their requirements is that they really don’t have the expertise or experience in conducting search and rescue in the Arctic,” Pulchny said.
For the exercise near Iqaluit, the crew is training with a Cormorant helicopter, which, powered by three engines, is designed to operate in severe conditions.
The crew will train during the day and night, conducting hoist training, setting up survival tents, and learning how to search by air.
But when it comes to search and rescue in Nunavut, and hunters getting lost, most missions are carried out by the RCMP, Pulchny said.
“They would call up the resources of their ground search teams then. If they required additional assistance from the military or from additional resources, then they would call the joint rescue co-ordination centre,” he said.
From that point, “resources for whatever the operation is, and wherever it is are determined.”
Under the federal search and rescue mandate, the overall responsibility for land and inland water searches, rests with the provinces, territories and municipalities.
However, the Canadian Forces may provide assistance to land and inland water searches when necessary.