In Canada, search and rescue is a responsibility of the Canadian Forces. There are three regions referred to as Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) located in Halifax, Trenton and Victoria. Each region has at least one squadron with aircraft dedicated to Search and Rescue (SAR) operations.
Canada, as the second largest country with the longest coastlines, is very sparsely populated. Combined with extremes in geography and weather, Canada is one of the most challenging countries in the world for SAR operations. This challenge has led to the formation of Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) in 1986. CASARA is a non-profit organization. The men and women volunteer their time for training in the event that they are tasked to search for aircrafts. CASARA members undergo vigorous training in search techniques under the mandate of the Canadian Forces. Their performance is evaluated every 18 months.
CASARA can be found in all provinces across Canada.
In Saskatchewan there are 8 zones. Zone 6 covers an area of approximately 66,600 km2. It extends from Yorkton to Humboldt.
The men and women come from all walks of life, for example, farmers, plumbers, politicians, businessmen, engineers, etc. The members volunteer their time in training as spotters, navigators, pilots, and search coordinators.
CASARA’s mandate is to assist the Canadian Forces when there is an aircraft incident. Their skills in search and rescue are invaluable to the community. Their service is often requested by the local law enforcements in searching for missing individuals.
CASARA members utilize their own aircrafts and vehicles and are reimbursed for mileages only. The 2018 budget for training is only $15,889.
The Canadian Forces and the local law enforcement only reimburse expenses incurred in actual search missions. There is substantial savings to the taxpayers using CASARA members’ aircraft.
For example, Cessena 182 cost about $250 an hour in contrast to $12,000 an hour for a military Hercules. In addition, local members are familiar with their area and can respond much quicker than a Hercules coming out from Winnipeg. Zone 6 has five pilots, five navigators, 12 spotters and two search coordinators.
The budget for training is simply insufficient to maintain a high level of standard. The donations from Weyerhaeuser will assist with ongoing training.
We all know the importance of volunteerism. We see volunteerism in every corner of our towns and cities. Volunteerism not only benefits the local community, but, equally important, it is a personal development as well.
When people give their time freely to their community, it is not because they have nothing else better to do. They do it with a commitment and a belief that they are making a difference in their local community.
When young people engage in volunteerism, they are learning to share, to care and to love thy neighbours.
When there is a disaster or calamity, we see hope because of the community of volunteers coming together. When I see such act of kindness, I see hope in our humanity.
The UN General Assembly has recognized the significant contributions of volunteers. International Volunteer Day (IVD) mandated by the UN General Assembly, is held each year on 5 December. The theme is “Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere”.
The men and women of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) Zone 6 division wish to express their sincere appreciation for the $1,000 donation from Weyerhaeuser in 2018. This is the second year that a donation was given to Zone 6. The directors would also like to thank its member, Emma Playle who is employed by Weyerhaeuser, for making the application for funding.
Weyerhaeuser’s contributions to volunteerism exhibit a high degree of insight and foresight. As a corporate citizen, it is also a part of the community. Weyerhaeuser recognizes the importance of the role of volunteerism it has on our community. For this, we applaud their leadership.
Danny Yuen is Deputy Zone 6 Commander and a search coordinator for CASARA.