Search and Rescue Technicians graduate from training program
Ready to put their lives on the line for others, eleven Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members became the newest graduates of the search and rescue technician (SAR Tech) training program.
Held on June 16, the graduation is a culmination of eleven months of various rigorous courses.
The eleven newest members of the SAR Tech program first went through a selection process in February 2015. Anyone who has served for four years in the CAF is allowed to apply for the program.
Those that are accepted typically embody a certain level of physical fitness, mental attitude, teamwork, and drive.
“It’s a fairly demanding job, and there are a few of us, so it’s kind of an elite position to get,” said Sgt. Morgan Boutilier, course director.
After the selection process is complete, candidates are sent to complete SAR Tech training at the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue located at 19 Wing CFB Comox.
During the course of the 11 months on Course 49, the specific name for this particular course, candidates must perform several life-saving missions throughout Canada and are tested in severe weather and environmental conditions. A SAR Tech must be able to reach those in need in various circumstances, and the training puts these skills to the test.
Candidates partake in ground operations phase; a three-month medical phase where they become primary care paramedics; a five-week dive phase; parachute training; mountain climbing; and Arctic survival, where they are sent to the Arctic for a little over a week and are required to live off the land. At the end, a final operations phase brings together everything candidates have learned over the eleven months.
“In some situations, we have to take somebody who’s never even snorkelled and teach them to be a scuba diver…It’s quite a rigorous training program to take them from not knowing a specific skill set to being extremely proficient,” stated Boutilier.
Though the 11 candidates have now graduated, their training is still not complete. The newest SAR Tech members will be sent to squadrons across the country. They will work in two-person teams as team members, and learn to fly off of a particular air frame. According to Boutilier, various squadrons use different aircrafts.
The recent graduates must train for four years before taking on the role of team leader.
“During that time they’ll end up coming back to either Comox or Esquimalt or some other different training institute to do advanced medical training, advanced diving training advanced mountain training, etc., to get the skill sets and be provided the time to use those on the job before they become team leaders,” said Boutilier.
Over the course of his career as a SAR Tech, Boutilier has found being an instructor as one of his most rewarding experiences.
“One of the highlights of my ten years as a SAR Tech was getting the opportunity to be course NCO for Course 49. To be able to go through the selection process and see these men put everything on the line to do a job that they’d be so passionate about; to be selected and then give it 110 per cent throughout the whole year; and I got to mentor them as much as I could throughout that time, it’s extremely rewarding to see a young person join and go through that whole thing and me be able to pass on as much influence as I can and just see them complete the program and go out to be able to do our job. It’s extremely rewarding to be a part of that,” said Boutilier.