Search and Rescue

In Canada, search and rescue (SAR) is a shared responsibility among federal, provincial/territorial and municipal organizations, as well as air, ground and maritime volunteer SAR organizations. There is a distinct organizational difference between the responsibility for ground SAR and that of aeronautical and maritime SAR.

Canadian Armed Forces’ Responsibilities

The Canadian Armed Forces has the primary responsibility of providing aeronautical SAR services (search for downed aircraft) and the Canadian Coast Guard is responsible for maritime SAR services. The Canadian Armed Forces are responsible for the effective operation of this coordinated aeronautical and maritime SAR system.

Canadian Armed Forces’ resources may also assist in ground SAR efforts, medical evacuations and other humanitarian incidents, if requested by the responsible provincial/territorial or municipal authority.

Maintaining the Aeronautical and Maritime SAR Capability

Successful SAR operations rely on, among other factors, having the right capabilities at the right time. These capabilities include the right equipment, highly-skilled personnel, a response posture, appropriate location of SAR resources, and procedures.

SAR squadrons have been strategically located throughout the country, according to the historical distribution of distress incidents in order to provide the most effective SAR response to the greatest number of potential incidents.

SAR Resources

The Royal Canadian Air Force wings, located across Canada, provide military air resources in response to approximately 1,000 annual SAR taskings.

The CH-149 Cormorant and CH-146 Griffon helicopters are the primary rotary-wing aircraft used to respond to SAR . They offer swift response times, powerful hover and hoist capabilities, and dedicated SAR personnel.

SAR fixed wing aircraft, such as the CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130 Hercules, offer dedicated SAR personnel and specialized equipment such as air-droppable survival kits, including life rafts and shelters.

Most other Canadian Armed Forces aircraft, such as the CH-124 Sea King and the CP-140 Aurora, have a secondary SAR role.

Search and Rescue Technicians: That Others May Live

The Canadian Armed Forces have approximately 140 search and rescue technicians (SAR techs). 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.

Read more about Canada’s national search and rescue program on the Canadian Joint Operations Command website.

Search and Rescue (SAR) Map
  • 442 Squadron Comox
    • CC-115 Buffalo
    • CH-149 Cormorant
  • JRCC Victoria
  • 435 Squadron Winnipeg
    • CC-130 Hercules
  • JRCC Trenton
  • 424 Squadron Trenton
    • CC-130 Hercules
    • CH-146 Griffon
  • MRSC Quebec
  • JRCC Halifax
  • 413 Squadron Greenwood
    • CC-130 Hercules
    • CH-149 Cormorant
  • 103 Squadron Gander
    • CH-149 Cormorant

SAR news

A person hangs suspended on a tether from a large helicopter flying near snow-covered, mountainous terrain.

Investments in modernizing and increasing the CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue fleet

Investments in the CH-147 Cormorant helicopter fleet, announced on August 22, 2019, will see the fleet augmented by a minimum of two helicopters. The fleet will undergo upgrades and enhancements that will extend the life of the aircraft to at least 2042.
August 22, 2019

An artist’s concept of a yellow aircraft, with red wingtips and markings, flying over a winter landscape

It’s time to name our new search and rescue aircraft!

The RCAF is asking Canadians to choose their favourite from five possible names.
July 15, 2019

Three men wearing military uniforms sit behind a tartan covered table, holding pens with large documents on the table before them. Standing behind them are three more men, also wearing military uniforms.

418 Squadron flies again

418 Squadron has been re-established as 418 Search and Rescue Operational Training Squadron to train aircrew and maintainers for the RCAF’s new CC-295 fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft. The squadron commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Derek Jeffers, was appointed on July 11, 2019.
July 11, 2019

Under a clear blue sky, a very large group of children and a few adults gather in front of a large yellow helicopter sitting in a field, with trees in the background.

Show-and-tell show stopper: 14 Wing helicopter crew pays visit to school kids

A helicopter from 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, set down on the soccer field of Kings County Academy in Kentville on June 12, 2019, as a year-end treat for 600 excited students who lined the field awaiting its arrival.
June 24, 2019

A helicopter painted in yellow and red search and rescue colours rests on the tarmac with people wearing military uniforms working on or near it.

Chinthex 2019 – SAR operations exercise

Chinthex 2019 honed 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron members’ search and rescue skills, and those of a diverse group of units and partners.
May 28, 2019

A person wearing a military flight suit and a full-visor flying helmet stands beside the nose of a helicopter with another helicopter in the background. The terrain is covered in snow.

Search for two people onboard missing helicopter concludes

The search for two people onboard a Robinson R66 helicopter that went missing between Sudbury and Kapuskasing, Ontario, ended with the discovery of their aircraft on March 11, 2019. Unfortunately, when RCAF search and rescue technicians arrived at the crash site, Jody and Nicole Blais were found without vital signs.
March 12, 2019

A person wearing a helmet and visor looks out of an aircraft’s bubble window at land and water far below.

Mass casualty scenario wraps up 413 Squadron’s search and rescue exercise

Volunteer victims served as casualties during the recent search and rescue exercise at 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia.
October 26, 2018

SAREX 2017

SAREX 2017

SAREX 2017 video. Bravo Zulu!
December 20, 2017

The Boxtop 22 monument, photographed in August 2010.

Remembering the crash of Boxtop Flight 22

The fatal crash of a Hercules aircraft near Canadian Forces Station Alert led to the boldest air disaster rescue ever undertaken by the Canadian military in the High Arctic.
October 30, 2017

Search and Rescue training parachute jump. Stock photo not related to the accident.

CC130338 SAR Technician - Epilogue

The accident occurred during a 435 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron CC130H Hercules search and rescue (SAR) training mission.
March 8, 2017

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