MAJOR SAR PLANS AND INITIATIVES
The following major plans and initiatives will commence or will be ongoing in 2006 within individual SAR organizations or through collective action. Each activity is described, followed by the identification of the responsible department or agency.
2006 SAR Activities
Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) Aircraft Procurement (CF)
The objective of the FWSAR project is to analyze the available fixed-wing SAR aircraft options against selected criteria, select the most suitable aircraft, and then implement the introduction of the new aircraft. This aircraft must provide the CF with a robust yet cost-effective capability that meets the requirements of the CF in support of the National SAR Program. It is anticipated that a request for proposals will be issued in 2006. It should be noted it will be some years before the procurement process results in the delivery of these new aircraft.
Fleet Renewal (CCG)
The CCG rejuvenation strategy includes a need to examine options to renew the fleet's asset base. This is to ensure that CCG's capacity to support the government's maritime priorities and programs, including SAR, are on a sustainable footing. Fleet renewal also allows for enhanced on-water presence that will enable Canada to protect its territorial interests on all three coasts. There is also a need to examine a strategic investment and refurbishment of equipment to reinforce the Coast Guard infrastructure.
406 MHz Beacon Transition (TC/NSS)
The international COSPAS-SARSAT system will cease satellite processing of 121.5/243 MHz beacons from 1 February 2009. All beacon owners and users should begin taking steps to replace their 121.5/243 MHz beacons with 406 MHz beacons as soon as possible. Beginning in 2009, only 406 MHz beacons will be detected by the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system. This affects all maritime beacons (EPIRBs), all aviation beacons (ELTs) and all personal beacons (PLBs). COSPAS-SARSAT made the decision to cease satellite processing at 121.5 MHz in response to guidance from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). These United Nations organizations make recommended practices for safety requirements regarding aircraft and maritime vessels and have recognized the limitations of the 121.5 MHz beacons and the superior capabilities of the 406 MHz alerting system. Initiatives have been undertaken through the SAR New Initiatives Fund to develop low cost 406 beacons.
DASS MEOSAR (NSS/National Defence)
The Department of National Defence, in collaboration with the National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSS), exercises project sponsorship and project management responsibilities for Canadian-built Search and Rescue Repeaters (SARR) carried on American and European SARSAT. DND has the overall responsibility for management, procurement, delivery and support of SARR.
The USA suggests that performance enhancements of the SARSAT system would be achieved by placing SARR payloads, similar to those currently produced by Canada, on mid-earth orbit (MEO) satellites. The USA plans to fly SARSAT payloads on GPS Block III satellites as the Distress Alerting Satellite System (DASS), and has invited Canada to participate by producing the SARR payloads for DASS. The NSS and National Defence will work with the US Air Force, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aerospace Administration (NASA) to develop a bilateral MEOSAR strategy, which will include in 2006 a bilateral DASS Research and Development Arrangement.
Northern SAR Strategy (NSS/YT/NT/NU)
The objective of the Northern SAR Strategy is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of existing Northern SAR infrastructure and SAR-related plans and procedures, and provide solutions for risk reduction. Key to the development of a successful approach to this issue will be the development of lasting partnerships with northern stakeholders, particularly with Territorial governments and Aboriginal peoples. In 2006, a Northern SAR Capacity Assessment will be completed and a Federal/Territorial Working Group will be established, with a three-year mandate to identify and implement concrete actions toward achieving the objectives of the Strategy.
Search and Rescue Radio Interoperability Initiative (PSEPC/Provinces/Territories)
Radio interoperability is necessary for public safety agencies (police, fire, ambulance, border officials etc.) to communicate seamlessly amongst themselves, using wireless voice, such that they can effectively respond to events and emergencies. Currently, front line public safety officials experience significant radio communication problems, and find themselves unable to readily contact and communicate with each other during an emergency. The NSS has made a submission to Industry Canada to establish interagency calling frequencies, which should be implemented in 2006. The GSAR Council has agreed to hold the document on behalf of all first responders, with individual provinces and territories being responsible to communicate and administer it within their own jurisdictions.
Major Exercise Plans
Major SAR exercises are the cornerstone of interoperability, the development of robust procedures and the testing of capability. For this reason, public safety agencies encourage and perform annual exercises in each of the regions of Canada to ensure that best practices can be verified and all members of the SAR community benefit from multi-agency coordination.
Evolution of the Canadian Coast Guard as a Special Operating Agency (CCG)
The Canadian Coast Guard is committed to the continued effective and efficient delivery of its mandate and to the provision of essential services to Canadians. DFO will continue to implement the federal government's decision, announced in December 2003 and approved by Treasury Board, effective 1 April 2005, to create CCG as a special operating agency (SOA) within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. This will allow CCG to focus on providing essential and valuable services to mariners in Canadian waters as well as support the Department's mandate.
Canadian Forces Transformation (CF)
The CF will become more effective, relevant, and responsive, and its profile and ability to provide leadership at home and abroad will be increased. The transformation of the CF will focus on the establishment of new integrated (beyond joint) organizations and structures, including a unified national command and control system. These goals demand that the CF move beyond traditional thinking to adopt a fully integrated and unified approach to operations.
SAR PROGRAM PRIORITIES
The following priorities have been developed from the ICSAR partners' inputs to the National SAR Program development process and represent National SAR Program issues warranting program level action.
Each issue is described with actions to address it at the program level, followed by the identification of the program strategies the issue supports. These responses are in addition to the activities and initiatives that may be undertaken by one or more of the participants in accordance with their Roles and Responsibilities to deal with the issue.
2006 National SAR Program Plan Priorities
Public Education and Awareness. To focus on reducing the number and severity of SAR incidents. The development of creative inducements can result in lower cost to all agencies, including public health care, the insurance industry and federal/provincial SAR responders. Partners will achieve this through:
Data Management. To establish priorities and allocate resources, the NSS and partners need to have the ability to collect, analyze and evaluate SAR incidents and/or responses by:
SAR Volunteer Community. To work with volunteer SAR organizations to ensure their sustainability by addressing such issues as training, funding, support and engagement. Planned activities in 2006-2007 include:
Financial Resources. Ensure the SAR system is able to respond to changes in resource availability for SAR response by:
Training Standards and Exercises. To promote and develop common training and standardized procedures across disciplines, and validate them through multi-jurisdictional exercises that include common command, control and communications. This can be done by:
Technology. To develop methods and vehicles to better integrate new alerting and communications technologies in order to enhance interoperability. They can accomplish that goal by:
SAR Partnership with the Public Safety Community. To strengthen ICSAR's leadership and guidance of the National SAR Program through improved co-ordination between the National SAR Program and emergency management and public safety activities. They can accomplish this goal by: