CLO Reflection on 2019

CLO Reflection on 2019 From Capt. Marty Zimmer…

With 2019 quickly coming to a conclusion I wanted to take a moment to reflect back on what a significant year that we have all had in SAR and share some of our successes.  In all on my 34 years of SAR experience I can honestly say that this has been one of the busiest years on record, particularly due to the numerous significant  search operations that we have had to support.  With three (almost four) Major Search Operations occurring within the same Search and Rescue Region (SRR) within a six month period required significant support from the SAR community.  Over 350 personnel were directly involved in these operations and more than  1000 hours flown by search aircraft. This was an incredible feat.  We barely had time to recover from one search before we were deploying on the next operation.  To give you an idea of the scope of these operations, we supported a deployed force that flew more hours in one week than we flew on two of our Major RCAF deployments, Operation Impact (Airbus in Kuwait) and Operation Presence (C130J in Uganda) combined do in a month. Additionally while these major search operations were ongoing the community was also supporting other SAR taskings.  As an example during the first two days of the R44 search operation in Quebec, JRCC Trenton had 10 other SAR cases, three which were additional aircraft crashes that we responded to.  With the majority of our primary SAR aircraft actively involved in these searches and unavailable for other taskings, CASARA was often called upon to provide the SAR response. Being able to accomplish all of this a testament to the professionalism and dedication of the community!

Once again CASARA/SERABEC was a major contributor to the search effort of these Major Searches and it is only through the tireless efforts of all of those involved that we were successful.  Most notable is the significant number of qualified spotters that CASARA/SERABEC provided to these operations.  As I recall we had 30+ spotters on the first operation in Timmins.  The high standard to which these spotters are trained was evident as they easily moved from one aircraft type to another to ensure all aircraft were ready with sufficient search crews for each tasking .  Additionally due to the numerous search aircraft and qualified crews provided to each operation, we were able to provide quicker coverage of the search areas.  As a Search Master this is the most important thing as we are trying to locate any survivors in the early stages of the search.

In addition to the Major Search activity, CASARA/SERABEC also responded to numerous ELT searches, both ground and air and supported other SAR agencies on Humanitarian cases.  Some interesting searches through buildings and junk piles to find and isolate the various distress beacons was completed in a timely manner. We also saw significant commitment by new members as we stood up new units and requalified many zones.  CASARA also continues to be the lead with implementing new technology into SAR response. Whether it is trialing new projects such as the drone search capability, night vision goggles or working with other national or international organizations (USA) to implement new systems (ADS-B), you continue make strives to increase our SAR response and detection capabilities.

Your commitment in supporting the RCAF training requirements is key to ensure that we are able to force generated new crews.  Without this support we would be unable to upgrade new crews who are ultimately our primary SAR crews.  For 2019 CASARA and SERABEC supported 40 training exercises that involved a variety of crash exercises, beacon homing exercises, aircraft intercepts in addition to providing ground support for live para exercises.  With many of these being last minute requests, the Sqn. upgrade process could not have been completed without your support.  The ultimate result of your commitment to supporting these exercises has resulted in 424 Sqn. upgrading three new Herc aircraft commanders, one flight engineer, one load master and four new Griffon aircraft commanders. 

Overall, it has been an incredible SAR season and you should all be very proud of your efforts.  As I do not have a crystal ball to tell what 2020 will bring, I know that as professionals we will all be ready to respond to whatever the new year will bring. 

As your CLO it has been a pleasure to work with all of you this past year and myself, Glenn and Claude look forward to working with everyone in the new year.

Have a safe Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


Captain Marty Zimmer 
 CASARA Liaison Officer 
 424 Squadron 
 Canadian Armed Forces 
 Captain Marty  Zimmer 
 Officier de Liaison CASARA 
 Détachement esc 424 
 Forces armées canadiennes