Day and night, every day of the year, personnel at 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron stand ready to respond to calls for search and rescue (SAR). It’s a diverse team of pilots, SAR Techs, planners, military and civilian aircraft maintainers and support staff whose professionalism is readily apparent to the casual observer.
Each member of the squadron plays a critical role in the never-ending state of high-readiness, which by necessity includes training to maintain competencies and acquire new skills.
The primary role of 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, based at CFB Comox, is the provision of aviation resources in support of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Victoria.
The territory they cover is vast. The squadron is responsible for a SAR zone stretching from the BC – Washington border to the Arctic, and from the Rocky Mountains to 1,200 km out over the Pacific Ocean. It consists of approximately 920,000 square kilometres of mainly mountainous terrain of Yukon and British Columbia and 560,000 square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean extending to approximately 600 nautical miles offshore, including over 27,000 kilometres of rugged British Columbia coastline.
The rugged and often inaccessible terrain, severe weather, and large expanses of sparsely populated areas make the Victoria Search and Rescue Region the most demanding region in the country.
The Canadian Armed Forces have approximately 140 search and rescue technicians. They are highly trained specialists who provide advanced pre-hospital medical care and rescue for aviators, mariners and others in distress in remote or hard-to-reach areas.
These men and women are trained to a primary-care paramedic national standard with additional advanced skills.
SAR Techs are land and sea survival experts who specialize in rescue techniques, including Arctic rescue, parachuting, diving, mountain climbing and helicopter rescue.
The Royal Canadian Air Force’s only dedicated search and rescue helicopter, the rugged CH-149 Cormorant can operate in even the most severe conditions, making it ideal for Canada’s challenging geography and climate.
Powered by three engines, the CH-149 Cormorant has exceptional long-range capability — it can fly for over 1000 kms without refueling. With its ample cargo space and rear-ramp access, the helicopter can carry up to 12 stretchers or a load of 5,000 kg.
Because of its shaped rotor blades —strengthened by titanium strips along the leading edge — the CH-149 has superior lift and flight speed, and significantly less vibration than many other helicopters. This advanced system allows the Cormorant to start and stop rotors in very windy conditions — over 50 knots —and also helps provide a stable hover for critical hoisting operations. It is also equipped with a full ice protection system.