For one weekend in September at SAREX 2018, held at the Albert Head Training Centre in Metchosin B.C., our volunteer members of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue did some things we typically don’t do – all in the name of working together.

“Our 2018 SAREX was an opportunity to train and practice with different resources and responders,” said Ralph Mohrmann, RCMSAR Director of Readiness and the primary organizer for the weekend.

RCMSAR members learned from, shared information and worked alongside members of the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol, Ground Search and Rescue crews, PEP Air, the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard.

“For many of our members, it’s not something they typically get to do. Creating that understanding and building those relationships between different agencies can only improve and help our joint effectiveness in the heat of the moment,” said Mohrmann.

Relationship building was a key element of SAREX 2018.  The opportunity to train together also meant the chance to laugh together and build some lasting memories – and alongside some serious training scenarios, there was plenty of laughter and friendships forged.

“The opportunity to train and practice together can highlight any challenges that should be addressed before an actual emergency, and ultimately it improves crew confidence for when and if different agencies are called upon to respond together,” said Mohrmann.

Maintaining our Search and Rescue skills and capabilities in support of the Canadian Coast Guard is our primary function. This SAREx had various activities with that focus including on-water towing drills and workshops detailing Dewatering techniques, direction finding and first aid.

With the new provincial MOU there was also a focus on working alongside other agencies to better understand what an effective response would look like.  Other activities included conducting on-water search patterns for a person over board while PEPAir searched from above, and transferring a patient in a litter and personnel with gear from a rocky shoreline. All of these activities were designed to train and highlight effective communications capabilities for responders.

Of course, the important act of working together was all integrated within each activity where communications and leadership needed to be applied.  This was hugely amplified in the very popular and fun Obstacle Course that members worked through.

Participating in SAREX 2018, we know our crews are more understanding and better prepared to respond to marine emergencies alongside different resources.