NR 12.030 - March 8, 2012
OTTAWA – At the request of the Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Peter MacKay, the Canadian Forces conducted a review of Canadian Forces protocols with regards to Ground Search and Rescue. The legal authority for Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR), including the response for missing or lost persons, belongs to provincial and territorial governments, and as such, the Canadian Forces reviewed its protocols in consultation with partner agencies. The review is now complete and the Department of National Defence has amended the protocol for its participation in support of Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) operations. The amended protocol provides an additional layer of diligence, with all parties agreeing to implement a military feedback mechanism, to increase direct communications between agencies, to enhance situational awareness and to improve communication between GSAR partners.
"I am pleased with the recent collaborative efforts to review and improve upon military protocols in support to Ground Search and Rescue operations," said Minister MacKay. "The adoption of these new protocols is a demonstration of our continuing commitment, along with our federal and provincial partners, to ensure that we can collectively provide one of the best Search and Rescue systems in the world."
There are provisions for the Canadian Forces (CF) to assist GSAR operations through the provisions of search and rescue aircraft. In general, the use of CF aircraft in GSAR operations is reserved for instances when no other option is available, or when the requirements of the search are beyond the means of provincially secured assets. In this way the CF can remain postured to respond to its primary SAR mandate, namely aeronautical and maritime SAR events.
The new protocol was recommended following a recent meeting led by Fire and Emergency Services Newfoundland (FES-NL), to discuss interagency coordination in GSAR events. Participation included FES-NL and representatives from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC), Newfoundland Department of Justice (DOJ) and members from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Halifax.
"It is important for close collaboration between federal and provincial agencies and their efforts to continuously strive to recover Canadians in distress," said the Honourable Peter Penashue, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queens Privy Council for Canada, and Regional Minister for Newfoundland and Labrador. "Our system is founded on the principle of federal and provincial partner governments and organizations working together within a framework of responsibilities. The amended protocols announced today will allow agencies to more easily facilitate planning during an ongoing search without the Canadian Forces impeding on the legal authority of individual provinces to conduct ground search and rescue."
Canada's National Search and Rescue Program is founded on the principle of partnership between federal, provincial and territorial authorities. The RCMP is the operational authority for GSAR in parts of Newfoundland and Labrador and Fire and Emergency Services - Newfoundland and Labrador are called upon to assist the RCMP in providing the required assistance usually in the form of air services.