Search and Rescue (SAR) in Western Canada

Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Victoria leads and directs all SAR missions in the Victoria search and rescue region (SRR). This region covers western Canada. The commander of Joint Task Force Pacific (JTFP) is responsible for SAR operations in the Victoria SRR.

The Victoria search and rescue region (SRR) covers the following land and sea areas:

  • British Columbia and Yukon Territory. This is about 1,427,000 square kilometers of mainly mountainous terrain; and
  • Some 687,000 square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean. The area extends to about 600 nautical miles off Canada's west coast.

Much of the land area of the Victoria SRR is remote and rugged. There are few people and the area is not easily accessed.  However, there is plenty of recreational activity. This can result in SAR incidents. The region also includes the city of Vancouver. It is one of the largest shipping ports of North America.

Regional SAR response centre

JRCC Victoria is located in Esquimalt, B.C. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) run it.  JRCC Victoria monitors the Western Canada region for SAR incidents. It also directs SAR alerts and emergency response in the region.

JRCC Victoria receives about 3000 calls for assistance per year. This breaks down approximately as follows:

  • 75 percent relate to maritime incidents;
  • 10 percent are air incidents; and
  • 15 percent are requests for humanitarian assistance.

CAF SAR units in western Canada

The primary CAF SAR air squadron for the region is 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron. It is located at 19 Wing Comox on Vancouver Island. The squadron flies:

  • CC-115 Buffalo tactical transport aircraft; and
  • CH-149 Cormorant helicopters.

Any other CAF or CCG unit may back up the designated SAR units.  JRCC Victoria can give them the task of any SAR or SAR-like mission if they are:

  • available;
  • suitable; and
  • capable.

CAF assets are tasked to respond to approximately 200 SAR missions each year in western Canada.

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