A successful SAREX 2009 in Gander
After countless hours of planning, preparation, meetings, contracts, contract amendments and amendments to the amendments, the rubber finally hit the tarmac for SAREX 09 in Gander, N.L., on September 21, 2009.
This year, 9 Wing Gander and 103 Search and Rescue Squadron had the honour of hosting SAREX from September 20 to 26, 2009. The wing was flooded by almost 300 participants and observers from all across Canada and beyond. The Canadian Forces (CF) search and rescue (SAR) teams were joined by teams from a number of different areas of SAR. Teams from the Canadian Civil Air SAR Association (CASARA) from NL, NS, and last year’s CASARA winner from Thunder Bay, ON, were also in attendance. To give the event an international flavour, the United States Air Force provided two teams, and an observer from the Danish SAR organization also attended.
Canadian Air Force squadrons and other organizations involved in the delivery of SAR services in Canada participate in this annual exercise. Teams are comprised of SAR technicians, aircrew and maintenance crews. SAREX participants compete in a series of judged events to ensure standardization in techniques and procedures related to SAR.
The events consisted of the provision of medical services, rescue, a search, helicopter skills and parachuting accuracy. The range of events is designed to encompass the whole SAR team, so that all members are evaluated. All events are judged and points are awarded to each team as they compete in their individual events. These events are all designed to ensure that SAR activities are conducted in the most efficient means possible and that available resources are utilized to their maximum capability.
“National SAREX 09 has been a tremendous success. It goes without saying that we’ve sharpened our skills, but equally important is the fact that all participants were given an opportunity to exchange information and compare techniques,” stated Major Stephen Reid, Commanding Officer of 103 Search and Rescue Squadron, on completion of SAREX 09. “These exercises allow us to take great leaps forward towards enhancing a seamless and effective national SAR system, as well as strengthening partnerships between professional and volunteer organizations at all levels.”
From all accounts SAREX 09 was a resounding success and there has been nothing but positive feedback from attendees. Participants commented on the great hospitality that was shown to all who attended, and the excellent venues provided to present both realistic and valuable training opportunities.
“103 Search and Rescue Squadron and 9 Wing Gander are pleased to announce that National SAREX 09 was 100% successful. Blessed with good weather, the competing teams were able to complete every objective in the five main events. A year-long effort of planning and organizing has paid dividends with a diverse, competitive and rewarding exercise,” stated Major William Wyss, SAREX 09 Officer of Primary Interest.
Captain Peter Savage, SAREX 09 Operations coordinator, stated that “This past week was the finest example of the flexibility of air power that I have experienced in 19 years of service. It was an ambitious schedule, and the troops rose to the challenge as they always do, with a smile and a nod, confident that they and their machines were ready to do the job. I am ferociously proud of the SAR team, and consider myself very, very fortunate to be considered one of them.”
Gander, considered a ”modest” wing, pooled all its resources to pull off SAREX 09. A high percentage of wing members were involved in SAREX 09 in one capacity or another, and it was very much a team effort and a great experience for all involved.
“We have a small team here in 9 Wing Gander and a great deal of effort was put forth by all members to ensure that SAREX would be a resounding success. Our team ensured that all participants had a safe and rewarding experience,” commented Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Conway, Commander 9 Wing Gander, at the close of SAREX 09.