Search and Rescue Technicians are members of the elite, highly trained rescue specialist teams who provide on-scene medical aid and evacuation all over Canada, regardless of the conditions. They locate, treat and evacuate casualties. Search and Rescue operations may require parachuting, mountaineering, hiking, swimming, and diving.
The primary responsibilities of a Search and Rescue Technician are to:
- Penetrate emergency situations from air, land or sea
- Perform underwater rescues using Compressed-Air Breathing Apparatus
- Organize and lead ground search teams
- Perform mountain rescue operations
- Provide on-site life-saving and sustaining medical care
- Evacuate casualties by air, land or sea
- Carry out survival procedures under all climatic and terrain conditions
- Communicate by use of radios, pyrotechnic, ground and hand-signaling devices
- Operate all types of military vehicles
- Perform duties of aircrew members on rotary or fixed wing aircraft during rescue missions
Search and Rescue Technicians generally work in teams of two and operate under all Canadian climatic and terrain conditions. On any given day, the Search and Rescue Technicians could find themselves 200 miles out to sea, hoisting a casualty off a sailboat, parachuting at night into the high arctic, diving underwater, climbing close to the edge of a glacial crevasse, or coordinating a mountain rescue. While the job of a Search and Rescue Technician is dangerous, it is always conducted with health and safety in mind. Search and Rescue Technicians are provided with state of the art clothing, equipment, top-notch training and support to carry out their tasks.
The starting salary for a fully-trained Search and Rescue Technician is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Search and Rescue Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training. Those who possess the necessary knowledge, experience and leadership skills may also be selected as an Instructor at the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue, at 19 Wing Comox B.C.
The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Forces physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.
In order to be considered for the Basic Search and Rescue Technician training, you must pass the Search and Rescue Technician Preliminary Assessment Phase held at Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue Detachment in Jarvis Lake, Alberta. This preliminary assessment includes training and evaluation on bush craft, survival and physical fitness.
Search and Rescue Technicians attend the Basic Search and Rescue Technician course in Comox, British Columbia. The Search and Rescue Technician course, which takes 11 months, includes:
- ground operations
- medical training
- winter operations
- arctic operations
- dive training
- sea operations
- mountain operations
The final stages of the course are used to evaluate how well the Search and Rescue Technician has learned and can work with these new skills. This evaluation period is the deciding factor in completing the training and being assigned to the first posting.
Search and Rescue Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses or on-the-job training, including:
- Jump Master and Advanced Medical Phases
- Leadership Course
- Management Course
- Para and Medical Re-Certification
Applicants for the Search and Rescue Technician occupation must have a Primary Care Paramedic Certificate from a program accredited by the Canadian Medical Association and a current license or registration to work as a Primary Care Paramedic from a provincial regulatory body.
All applicants will have to pass the Search and Rescue Technician Physical Fitness Test, which involves completing a 675 metre continuous swim in 20 minutes or less in addition to the following exercises in 16 minutes or less:
- 1.5 Mile/2400 metre run (limited to 10 minutes and 15 seconds or less)
- 31 consecutive push-ups
- 33 consecutive sit-ups
- 8 consecutive chin-ups
- 450 metre shuttle run
This position is available for part-time employment through the Reserves. Reservists generally work part-time for a Reserve unit in their community. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Reservists train with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required professional standards of the job. If additional training is required in order to specialize skills, arrangements will be made by the home unit.
Typically, Reservists work or train with their home unit for at least four evenings and one weekend per month, from September to May of each year. They are paid 85% of Regular Force rates of pay and receive a reasonable benefits package.