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.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) 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 CAF is responsible for the effective operation of this coordinated aeronautical and maritime SAR system.

CAF's resources may also assist in ground SAR efforts, medical evacuations and other humanitarian incidents, if requested by the responsible provincial/territorial or municipal authority.

Learn how the CAF supports search and rescue operations across regions of Canada.

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
  • 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.

Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 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.

The CC-130 Hercules offers dedicated SAR personnel and specialized equipment such as air-droppable survival kits, including life rafts and shelters.

Most other CAF aircraft, such as the CP-140 Aurora, have a secondary SAR role.

The CAF 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.

“That Others May Live” is a motto long-embraced by SAR Techs that serve in the RCAF.

In tribute to sacrifices made by RCAF SAR Techs, Sergeant Mike Hall with the RCAF Band composed and recorded the song titled ‘That Others May Live’. Feel free to share with friends and family.

download icon That Others May Live (MP3, 3.76 MB)

On a long and lonely highway out of town
The radio reports a brother down
We wipe away the tear
A thousand calls this year
Say a little prayer for next time around

Some will give that others may live
Some give all
They answer the call
Some they say
Just live for the day
They can lend a hand
To their brothers that fall

On a cold and snowy mountain far from home
In the darkness of a forest where men roam
On a deep and angry sea
That'll bring you to your knees
You can rest assured you'll never stand alone


Keep standing tall and true
So proud , so brave , so few
Just one thing left to do
We will remember you


© 2015 Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada as represented by the Minister of National Defence. All rights reserved. The music and lyrics of this song are protected by Canadian copyright law. The song may be downloaded to a personal computer and shared electronically, but it cannot be reproduced in any form and sold commercially, or used in any other manner that would amount to infringement under Canadian copyright law, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

Search and Rescue Technicians use many different kinds of equipment to do their job, but they rely on aircraft to transport them where they need to go to save lives. Here are the aircraft that Canadian Search and Rescue Technicians use in their everyday work.
January 17, 2022

For Major Peter Wright, every SAR mission where there is a life saved, as well as every failure experienced, contribute to making him better. “Whether it is the 1st or 200th SAR mission, the feeling you have when you are able to bring a loved one home or to a higher level of care resulting in a life saved, is truly amazing.”
June 29, 2021

Interview with Sergeant Gordon (Jody) Hynes, Search & Rescue Technician.
April 19, 2021

Chief Warrant Officer Keith Mitchell could add two more years to his exceptional, 40-plus year military service, culminating in his award of the Cross of Valour, but he’s calling it a career on March 31, 2021.
March 31, 2021

The most recent session of NORAD's Joint Agile Basing Airpower Seminar focused on Arctic survival and search and rescue.
February 23, 2021

The Hercules has served Canada and Canadians quite well throughout its long and diverse history, carrying just about anything and everything, supporting SAR missions, and conducting air-to-air refuelling.
November 17, 2020

When Lockheed engineers and designers created the Hercules aircraft in the 1950s, it’s doubtful that they had any idea how versatile and iconic the plane would turn out to be and that it would one day celebrate 60 years of service in the RCAF.
October 14, 2020

“I don’t count years, and I have no regrets. I love being a SAR Tech. It’s an honour to be part of that team,” says Sergeant André Hotton, who’s been a SAR Tech for thirty years, making him the most senior SAR technician in the RCAF.
October 13, 2020

On September 25, 2020, the RCAF marked the arrival of the first aircraft of its future fixed-wing search and rescue fleet, which will be called the CC-295 Kingfisher.
September 25, 2020

A ten-hour walking rescue tests the mettle of RCAF SAR Techs.
September 14, 2020

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