Saturday, November 7, 2009

Search and Rescue Spotter Training

This morning I had the opportunity, along with some twenty other members of 14 Wing, to learn a little about the work of Search and Rescue (SAR) crews. We had signed up as volunteer spotters with CASARA (Civilian Air Search and Rescue Association) and this was the ground portion of our spotter training.

A spotter is the person or persons who go on a civilian or military SAR flight to search for a crash site andéor the persons to be rescued. It was impressed on us during our training that this is vital, life or death work, because the aircrew is too busy flying the aircraft to do a visual search. Visual searching is done from altitudes ranging from 1500 to 500 feet. It`s demanding and tiring work, and searchers usually work in 20 minute increments so they can rest their eyes once spelled off. Having flown with a SAR team on a training flight earlier this year, I have some idea of how demanding a visual search can be, especially over water.

We were told that about 30% of spotter volunteers remove themselves after the discover that they are prone to airsickness. There`s no shame in using the airsickness bag, called a `boarding pass` by the aircrew, but if you decide to try a second time and get sick again, then spotting is not for you and you are removed. We were also told that a SAR callout could mean several unexpected days away from home, stuck in some faroff place like Iqualuat. Well, I`ve always wanted to see the Nrth. :)

Speaking of SAR, journalist and photographer Michael Yon has covered the work of US combat SAR teams, known by their call sign as Pedros, in Agfhanistan. You can find his work here.

In this photo of Yon`s a US Pedro team works on a British soldier being evacuated by heliicopter.

More to come soon, I hope.

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Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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