(2011 - 2015) Steps Using Technology & Awareness



In the fall of 2010 Sergeant Jean Tremblay, CASARA Liaison SAR Tech from 442 Squadron Comox CASARA approached the CASARA National Executive with a proposal to train a select number of CASARA members on winter survival techniques at Camp Jarvis, AB. He assembled a group of experienced SAR Tech instructors which consisted of himself, Sergeant JP Benoit, Canadian Forces School Search and Rescue (CFSSAR), Sergeant Al Daigle, CASARA Liaison NCM SAR Tech from 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron, Greenwood, NS, and Brian Dunham, retired SAR Tech and PEP Air/CASARA British Columbia Training Officer. John Kelly, retired SAR Tech and CASARA National Administrator oversaw the training for CASARA.

The National CASARA Executive selected 13 candidates, one CASARA member from each province/territory to attend the course. The plan was to “train the trainer” in winter survival at Camp Jarvis in February 2011. Those trained would go back to their province/territory and train other CASARA members on what they learned from a group of experienced SAR Tech Survival Instructors.

On day one the CASARA members assembled at Camp Jarvis, met their instructors and were shown their sleeping quarters, the para cabins. All students were impressed with their shelter and welcomed the Yukon stove in each para cabin to help keep them warm at night in minus - 30C temperatures.

(LEFT) Welcome sign at entrance to Camp Jarvis, AB. (RIGHT) CASARA students welcomed to Camp Jarvis by CASARA Liaison NCM / SAR Tech Instructor, Jean Tremblay.

During the next several days SAR Tech instructors taught the survival pattern in the classroom and then took the group out into the woods to demonstrate how its done in the bush. Lean-to shelters were built, rabbit and Ojibway snares were made, signal fires were made and lit, proper sharpening of knives and axes were demonstrated and many other outdoor skills were taught. The students were very impressed with the knowledge and skills that the SAR Techs displayed throughout the entire week during their survival course.

(LEFT) CASARA Liaison NCM / SAR Tech Instructor Sergeant Jean Tremblay briefing CASARA students. (RIGHT) SAR Tech Instructor Sergeant J. P. Benoit demonstrating how to build a lean to shelter to CASARA students.

(LEFT) CASARA / SAR Tech Instructors (L-R) Sgt. Brian Dunham (retired), Sgt. Jean Tremblay (Regular Force) and Sgt. Al Daigle (Reserve Force). (RIGHT) CASARA Liaison SAR Tech / SAR Tech Instructor Sergeant Jean Tremblay is posing with CASARA Students for a photo.

(LEFT) SAR Tech Instructor, Brian Dunham explaining how the Ojibway Bird Snare works. (RIGHT) CASARA student, Richard Covlin tasting delicious warmed military survival rations.

Near the end of the course the students were shown how to build a Quinzee hut shelter and then had to build one themselves. One person brought along a portable igloo making kit and was eager to see if it actually worked as advertised. This proved to be very time consuming and required a lot of snow and energy to build. Eventually it was completed late in the evening but not without the help of many. Needless to say, the Quinzee Hut snow hut was the better option for a shelter.

(LEFT) Quinzee Hut snow shelters on Jarvis Lake. (RIGHT) Igloo making kit in operation.



SmartPilot.ca is an aviation website that has been developed by CASARA to enhance flight safety in Canada, with support from the National Search and Rescue Secretariat. SmartPilot will develop an outreach communication tool designed to help maintain a high level of recreational SAR Awareness including elements of flight safety in Canada, with a goal to reduce SAR call outs and save lives. It also provides a rich resource of interesting and informative articles, videos and interactive programming to help better inform pilots about how to be safer in the air.

The website includes a feature called Ask ATS (Air Traffic Services) developed in cooperation with NAV CANADA to provide answers to common pilot questions.

SmartPilot video production also included organizational videos for CASARA like this one below, showcasing "Who we are".

The CASARA Smart Pilot program was developed to teach safe flying practices which would save lives, reduce SAR callouts and save millions of dollars of tax payers money. Safe flying practices help reduce emergency callouts and relieves primary SAR aircraft and crews to handle other SAR missions in Canada.

CASARA Virtual Trainer

The CASARA Virtual Trainer is a computer driven program that simulates an aircraft flying over the different terrains found in Canada. It allows various objects of search to be displayed onto a computer screen whereby a spotter has to use their spotting skills to locate the object and report the find to the pilot. They then use proper intercom procedures to call the aircraft around so the pilot has it in their site. Training spotters using the Virtual Trainer saves thousands of dollars in aircraft time and improves spotting skills.

This project will provide computer-based training systems and materials to enhance the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) training program. This will be accomplished by providing distributed and web-based training material and flight simulation to CASARA for training spotters and navigators. The systems, called CASARA Virtual Trainers (CVT), will consist of immersive “in-flight” environments and realistic missions that will provide hands-on training in appropriate voice communications, visual-scanning techniques, call-around procedures, planning and executing visual-search patterns, emergency location transmitter homing techniques, map interpretation and GPS navigation.

CARES Niagara crews receiving training on the CVT system. (Photos by Randy Klaassen)

This simulator technology can also promote inter-operability across CASARA zones and provide a base infrastructure for future distributed virtual search and rescue training exercises. The provision of a web-enabled, common repository for training material ensures ready access to information from anywhere in Canada. This technology will enhance the capacity of Northern and remote operations, in addition to providing a common training environment to all CASARA members.

CARES Niagara crews doing CVT Training to improve navigation and spotter skills. (Photos by Randy Klaassen)



Canada’s Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) was awarded the Master’s North American Trophy by the Honourable Company of Air Pilots (North America) [HCAP(NA)] in a November 2, 2015, ceremony at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario. The award recognizes outstanding, enduring and meritorious contribution to search and rescue in Canada.

“This award is for aviation excellence in an area specific to flying in North America,” Jeremy Tracy, Chairman of HCAP(NA), wrote about the award to CASARA. “This is a tremendous way to recognize the excellence of your volunteers from CASARA, who have become a mainstay of search and rescue.”

CASARA, a volunteer organization, was formed in 1986 and established as a federally funded Department of National Defence arms-length organization that is tasked directly by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centres throughout Canada. It has operational zones and volunteers in every province and territory, covering about 15,000,000 square kilometres and operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

About 1,900 volunteers with access to 350 aircraft donate almost 150,000 hours of personal time annually to training, flying on CASARA aircraft for SAR missions or functioning as spotters on Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft. CASARA volunteers also become involved with ground searches for missing or lost persons, canoeists, hikers and snowmobilers

The principal activities of HCAP involve sponsoring and encouraging actions and activities designed to ensure that aircraft are piloted and navigated safely by individuals who are highly competent, dependable, self-reliant, and respected. The Company fosters sound education and training of air pilots, from initial to specialist training.

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