Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Royal Canadian Air Force leaders gathered at 19 Wing Comox in early July to mark the graduation of the 50th Search and Rescue (SAR) Course in Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) history.
“It is a pleasure to congratulate Canada`s newest Search and Rescue Technicians, and to mark the 50th Search and Rescue Technician graduation class of the Canadian Armed Forces. After almost a year of some of the most intensive training in Canada’s toughest terrain, these SAR Techs have earned the right to join their colleagues in carrying out the most demanding of rescue missions,” said Sajjan.
The graduation of these eleven students marks the successful completion of one year of intense training that prepares them to become primary care paramedics, equipped with expertise in land and sea survival, parachuting, mountaineering, diving and flying operations.
Training took place at a number of locations including Comox, Victoria, and Vancouver, B.C.; Jarvis Lake and Jasper National Park, Alta.; Winnipeg, Man.; Halifax, N.S.; and Resolute Bay, N.W.T.
These eleven students will now be posted to SAR squadrons across the country.
“From the demanding selection process right through to the completion of their training, these Search and Rescue Technicians have worked tirelessly and have rightly earned their place in the proud SAR Tech occupation that embodies their motto—“So Others May Live,” said BGen. David Cochrane, Commander, 2 Canadian Air Division.
Originally called “Para Rescue,” the CAF has been training SAR Techs since 1944 based on the idea of Wilfred Reid May who believed in creating a team that could parachute into a crash site to administer first aid and organize the recovery of accident victims.
The first Para Rescue School formed in Edmonton in 1944 and started the first course on Feb. 12, 1945, with 12 candidates.
In 1964, the Para Rescue Course came under the RCAF Survival Training School in Edmonton.
The Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue was created in Comox, BC in 1996 and held its first course in 1998. The school has been graduating courses annually since 2005.
“Being the 50th graduating class, these Search and Rescue Technician students had a rich and proud heritage to live up to, and they have. Those who have passed through this school have gone on to save thousands of lives, and I am confident these graduates will proudly follow in their footsteps,” Maj. John Coffin, Commandant, Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue.
Currently, the CAF has approximately 140 SAR Techs who have saved thousands of lived nationwide.