SARSCENE 2010 - The 17th annual SARSCENE conference

SARPatchThe 17th annual SARSCENE conference was held in beautiful Montreal, Quebec on September 27-28, 2010. 

This national search and rescue conference drew Canadians from all regions of the country including British Columbia, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Maritimes as well as international delegates from New Zealand, Ireland, USA and the UK.

SARSCENE has been very successful in the past, sharing knowledge, introducing new initiatives and celebrating achievements from coast to coast to coast.  This year’s conference was no different as it drew in over 300 delegates, and was preceded by the Canadian Safe Boating Council Symposium at the Delta Centre-Ville (downtown Montreal)

This year’s theme covered 3 main areas; Volunteer SAR, Northern & Remote SAR and Knowledge, Innovation and Technology in SAR.  A leader(s) within these fields facilitated sessions creating open discussion for the participants.  These workshops informed the volunteers about new opportunities for their individual SAR groups and organizations, they introduced new technology that could greatly improve their team’s productivity and reviewed the benefits of using local resources in remote areas of the country to better serve the public in emergency situations.

Volunteer SAR

  • Rust-proofing your resources:  Keeping volunteers engaged when SAR operations are scarce.
  • SAR volunteers as spokespersons: using the media to your best advantage
  • Am I covered?  A review of liability management and insurance coverage for SAR volunteers in Canada.
  • Designing an Occupational Health and Safety program for SAR volunteers: Managing risk while maintaining response.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: The role of Critical Incident Stress Debriefings and follow-up

Northern & Remote SAR

  • Part I:  Forecasting SAR demand in the North over the next 10-20 years: communities, industry, and government make their predictions
  • Part 2:  A look at present and future SAR response capacity in the North
  • Opportunities and Challenges in Northern Air SAR.
  • Polar bears and parachutes: Case studies and questions raised by adventure tourism
  • Red sweatshirts and SAR: The Canadian Rangers' evolving role in Canada’s northern and remote areas

Knowledge, Innovation, and Technology in SAR

  • The disaster spectrum: Where SAR and emergency management meet
  • Managing the major incident: Lessons for communication and coordination
  • SAR system of the future: Leveraging technology to support decision-making
  • Technology to the Rescue?
  • Managing for results: Performance measurement in SAR

SARscene-Montreal-QC-2010-0The SARSCENE Games is a one-day event that is intended to showcase search and rescue (SAR) and to promote the sharing of skills in a friendly yet competitive environment.  As a land-based event, the focus is on the ground and inland water search and rescue environment.  Held each year in conjunction with the annual SARSCENE event, the Games are organized jointly by the National Search and Rescue Secretariat and its co-host. This year, the event’s co-host was the Department of Public Safety - General Directorate of Civil Protection. The Games typically bring together participants from across Canada, and often internationally.  The judges selected to design and evaluate the Games each year also represent a diverse cross-section of the search and rescue community, and have included search and rescue volunteers, police, military SAR technicians, park wardens, paramedics, fire-fighters, Coast Guard personnel, and government and industry SAR specialists.

SAR Games

The one-day event consisted of a series of six SAR-related challenges that demanded cooperation, knowledge and quick thinking by teams of four people.  Qualified adjudicators did the scoring, and the winning teams were determined on the basis of their total score for the day.  During the course of the day, teams rotated through the six events, which were located in different areas across the Games site.  Both SARSCENE attendees and members of the general public were invited to walk through the site and view the teams as they progressed through each event.  The Games were coordinated from a central command post, which served as the focal point for the day’s activities, including the opening ceremony, team briefing, and public information.

Teams were not told in advance exactly what to expect, but were advised that the following core skills may be featured in some or all of the six events:

  • Land navigation, including compass and/or GPS
  • Interpretation of topographic maps and common symbols
  • Common SAR knots and basic rope techniques
  • Line-heaving (rope throwing) accuracy
  • Basic low angle rescue and litter-carrying techniques
  • Visual search techniques and efficiency
  • First Aid and emergency scene management
  • Survival skills, including the construction of ground-to-air signals, fire, and improvised shelters
  • Search management theory and application
  • General SAR knowledge (e.g. coordinate systems, common terminology, search techniques, phonetic alphabet)
  • Clue detection and evidence handling
  • Judgement, ingenuity, teamwork

HUGSThe winners of the 2010 SARSCENE Games were ‘The Emergency Unit of the East of the Sûreté du Québec’.  Congratulations to Mr. Jonathan Faucher, Mr. Claude Baril, Mr. Élie Gosselin and Mr. Dany Boulianne.

A special thank you to all the judges who volunteered their time during these Games, including the two representatives from the Irish Coast Guard, Robin Blandford and Donnchadh Mac Cobb, Director and Lead Contact for ‘Decisions For Heroes’.

The 17th annual SARSCENE conference was a success thanks to the time and energy that went into planning, organizing and coordinating of the workshops, Games, tradeshow, awards and banquet.  The delegates brought enthusiasm, knowledge, skills and ideas, sharing their expertise and working together.  This collective effort made this years conference one to remember.

For more information please visit the Government of Canada, National Search & Rescue Secretariat’s website at: