Search and rescue


Search and rescue
For other uses, see Search and rescue (disambiguation)
Search and rescue
Canada Search and Rescue.jpg
A Canadian Forces CH-149 Cormorant helicopter hoists a man from a Canadian Coast Guard cutter

Search and rescue (SAR) is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.[1]

The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations. These include Mountain rescue; ground search and rescue, including the use of search and rescue dogs; urban search and rescue in cities; combat search and rescue on the battlefield and air-sea rescue over water.

Contents

Definitions

There are many different definitions of search and rescue, depending on the agency involved.

  • Canadian Forces: "Search and Rescue comprises the search for, and provision of aid to, persons, ships or other craft which are, or are feared to be, in distress or imminent danger."[1]
  • United States Defense Department: A search is "an operation normally coordinated by a Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) or rescue sub-center, using available personnel and facilities to locate persons in distress" and rescue is "an operation to retrieve persons in distress, provide for their initial medical or other needs, and deliver them to a place of safety."[3]

History

One of the world's earliest well documented SAR efforts ensued following the 1656 wreck of the Dutch merchant ship Vergulde Draeck off the west coast of Australia. Survivors sent for help, and in response three separate SAR missions were conducted, without success.[4]

In 1983, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 with 269 occupants was shot down by a Soviet aircraft near Sakhalin. The Soviets sent SAR helicopters and boats to Soviet waters, while a search and rescue operation was initiated by U.S., South Korean, and Japanese ships and aircraft in international waters, but no survivors were found.[5]

Types of search and rescue

Mountain rescue

Rescue helicopter "Christophorus 8"
Rescue rope training

Mountain rescue relates to search and rescue operations specifically in rugged and mountainous terrain.

Ground search and rescue

Ground search and rescue is the search for persons who are lost or in distress on land or inland waterways. Traditionally associated with wilderness zones, ground search and rescue services are increasingly required in urban and suburban areas to locate persons with Alzheimer's disease, autism, dementia, or other conditions that lead to wandering behaviour.[6] Ground search and rescue missions that occur in urban areas should not be confused with "Urban SAR", which in many jurisdictions refers to the location and extraction of people from collapsed buildings or other entrapments.[7]

Some ground search teams also employ search and rescue dogs.

Urban search and rescue

Urban search and rescue (US&R), also referred to as Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR), is the location and rescue of persons from collapsed buildings or other urban and industrial entrapments. Due to the specialized nature of the work, most teams are multi-disciplinary and include personnel from police, fire and emergency medical services. Unlike traditional ground search and rescue workers, most US&R responders also have basic training in structural collapse and the dangers associated with live electrical wires, broken natural gas lines and other hazards. While earthquakes have traditionally been the cause of US&R operations, terrorist attacks and extreme weather such as tornadoes and hurricanes have also resulted in the deployment these resources.[8]

Combat search and rescue

Combat search and rescue is search and rescue operations that are carried out during war that are within or near combat zones.[9]

Air-sea rescue

Search and Rescue students give the "I am all right" signal to let the SAR instructors know that they are ready for further instructions at the pool on board Naval Station San Diego.

Air-sea rescue (ASR) refers to the combined use of aircraft (such as flying boats, floatplanes, amphibious helicopters and non-amphibious helicopters equipped with hoists) and surface vessels to search for and recover survivors of aircraft downed at sea as well as sailors and passengers of sea vessels in distress.[10]

International divisions of search and rescue responsibility

International waters

International waters are divided into various regions according to the SOLAS convention.[11] In the Arctic, SAR responsibilities are since May 2011 governed by the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement.

United Nations

International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) is a UN Organization that promotes the exchange of information between national Urban Search and Rescue Organizations.

SAR by nation

Australia

  • National

The Australian search and rescue service is provided by AusSAR, which is part of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).[12]

AusSAR operates a 24 hour Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Canberra and is responsible for the national coordination of both maritime and aviation search and rescue. AusSAR is also responsible for the management and operation of the Australian ground segment of the Cospas-Sarsat distress beacon detection system. AusSAR's jurisdiction spans Australia and as well as covering 52.8 million square kilometres of the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans.[12]

AusSAR's RCC is staffed by SAR specialists who have a naval, merchant marine, air force, civil aviation or police service background. The RCC also coordinates medical evacuations, broadcasts maritime safety information and operates the Australian Ship Reporting System (AUSREP).[12]

In coordinating search and rescue missions, AusSAR will call on assistance from organisations as appropriate,[13] such as the Defence forces, Border Protection Command, trained aviation organisations (Civil SAR Units), emergency medical helicopters, state Police services and trained Air Observers from the State Emergency Service.[14]

There are also other organisations, such as the non-profit Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service that is based at a number of sites around Australia.

  • State
BSAR searchers at Mount Dom Dom

State Police in many states operate state-based search and rescue squads, such as the Victoria Police Search and Rescue Squad, which provides specialist expertise, advice and practical assistance in land search and rescue on most terrain including snow and vertical cliff search and rescue.[15]

There are also state-based volunteer search and rescue groups such as the Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad[16] in New South Wales and Bush Search and Rescue Victoria[17] in Victoria. These state-based groups draw searchers from bushwalking, mountaineering and specialist rescue clubs within their State. A few groups respond on horseback as mounted search and rescue.

The State Emergency Service is a collection of volunteer-based emergency organisations established in each state or territory which are responsible for many rescue efforts in urban and rural areas and in any rescue that results from flood or storm activity. In rural areas the SES conducts most bush search, vertical and road traffic rescues. In urban areas they assist the police and fire services with USAR.[18]

Azerbaijan

Search and rescue operations in Azerbaijan are managed by the Ministry of Emergency Situations onshore in cooperation with the State Civil Aviation Administration in air and the State Maritime Administration offshore.[19]

Belgium

Search and rescue duties along the Belgian part of the North Sea are executed by the Belgian Air Component. From its Koksijde Air Base it operates 5 Westland Sea King Mk.48 helicopters.[20]

Brazil

Search and rescue duties in Brazil are the responsibility of the Para-SAR, of the Brazilian Air Force.[21]

Canada

Canadian Forces CC-115 Buffalo fixed wing SAR aircraft from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron.
CH-146 Griffon in SAR markings
HMCS Saskatoon and CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter

Search and rescue duties in Canada are the responsibility of the Canadian Forces and Canadian Coast Guard in conjunction with provincial and municipal governments and private organizations. The Department of National Defence (DND) has overall responsibility for the coordinated search and rescue system. Authority for the provision of maritime SAR is assigned to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans by the Canada Shipping Act and the Canada Oceans Act.[1] The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other police forces also coordinate ground search and rescue (GSAR) operations, often using volunteer GSAR teams operating in specific districts under provincial coordinating bodies.[22]

The Canadian Forces has five assigned SAR squadrons:

Plus three Combat Support Squadrons with SAR roles:

Some municipalities and provinces have their own SAR units:

There are also volunteer non-profit associations that conduct SAR in Canada:

Denmark

Royal Danish Air Force S-61A with its rescue swimmer

Search and Rescue operators in Denmark are primarily: Danish air force Squadron 722, Danish navy air squadron, naval home guard and the Danish Maritime Safety Administration, coordinated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, operated by the navy and air force in the Danish Naval Commands facilities near Aarhus. Internationally the Danish works mainly with Germany, Norway and Sweden. With the two latter, the annual exercises Baltic SAREX[42] and Scan-SAR[43] are conducted.

SAR services in Denmark started in 1957 with seven Sikorsky S-55s. Their piston engines produced only 550 hp (410 kW) and they had limited fuel capacity, so their operational range was short. To increase the operational area, Pembroke twin-engined fixed-wing aircraft were employed for search. These aircraft would localize the distressed person(s) and the S-55s would then rescue them. The SAR service was started for respond to fighter-plane crashes as 79 aircraft crashed, with 62 dead, in the period 1950-1955.,[44] but civilian SAR duties are also conducted.

In 1962 eight ship-based Aérospatiale Alouette IIIs were received. These were primarily meant for the ships patrolling the North Atlantic, but also supported the S-55s. In 1964 - 1965 the seven S-55s were replaced with eight Sikorsky S-61A helicopters.[45] This helicopter was originally designed for anti-submarine warfare, but the Danish variant had the heavy dipping sonar equipment removed and extra fuel tanks added, giving the helicopters longer range. In 1977 radar was installed and in 1990 FLIR was added. Further avionics and navigation systems, including GPS, have also been added over time.

In 1977 the naval air squadron was re-established as an independent squadron in the navy and had their Alouette IIIs replaced with Westland Lynx helicopters. Their primary operational area was still the North Atlantic, but they continued their support role, although this was reduced with the introduction of the S-61s. In 2006, the first of the S-61s was replaced by one of 14 new AgustaWestland EH101 Merlin helicopters.

In 2007 the Danish Defence held a public display in Horsens, to raise awareness about rescue services and maritime safety. Maritime SAR is important because Denmark has a relative long coast line to its land mass.[46][47]

In 2008 the SAR forces in Denmark were equipped with eight EH-101, one or two Lynx, 34 naval home guard vessels and 21 rescue vessels[46] as well as the naval vessels at sea. The EH-101s operate from bases in Aalborg, Skrydstrup and Roskilde. When the sea water temperatures are low a helicopter is also deployed to the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. The Lynx operates from Karup. Maritime vessels are spread out through the entire coastline and on islands. The S-61s and EH-101s have a crew of six: Two pilots, a navigator, a flight engineer, a physician and a rescue swimmer.

Estonia

The Estonian Border Guard (Piirivalve) is the Estonian security authority responsible for the border security. It is the main support organisation for search and rescue missions in Estonia, and operates a small fleet of SAR vessels and helicopters.[48]

Finland

In Finland the responsible authority for land and inland water SAR is the Fire and the Crisis and the Frontier Guard in the maritime area. These organizations alert and decide on the most suitable response for the location and situation. The country also has several volunteer organizations such as the volunteer fire department (VPK),[49] the Finnish Lifeboat Institution (SMPS)[50] and the Red Cross Finland (SPR).[51]

Germany

A cruiser of the DGzRS and a SeaKing helicopter of the German Navy

Search and Rescue in German waters is conducted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger DGzRS (literally translated: German Society for the Saving of Shipwrecked, more common: German Maritime Rescue Service GMRS) with air support by the German Navy and the German Air Force. All incoming requests are coordinated by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Bremen. The DGzRS is a non-governmental organization entirely supported by donations.[52]

Besides the offshore Search And Rescue services, the German Air Force provides 8 SAR Command Posts on a 24/7 basis with the Bell UH-1D Huey.[53]

Further, the Technisches Hilfswerk is a key component of the German disaster relief framework. It is, among other things, regularly involved in urban search and rescue efforts abroad.[54]

Hong Kong

SAR operations are conducted by the Government Flying Service (GFS) and before 1993 by the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force. The GFS conducts maritime SAR within the 400-nautical-mile (740 km) radius of the Hong Kong Flight Information Region (FIR).[55]

As of 2010, the GFS fleet consists of nine aircraft including:[55]

Other civilian rescue units in Hong Kong include:

Iceland

Icelandic Coast Guard Eurocopter AS-365N Dauphin 2 helicopter

The Icelandic Coast Guard Service is responsible for and supervises search and rescue of aircraft that are considered to be in danger, have crashed or are missing. The Coast Guard Service is responsible for control on the location if the accident took place on the ocean. Isavia is responsible for alerting services. The Icelandic Coast Guard operates Maritime surveillance aircraft, SAR helicopters and patrol vessels.[57]

The Iceland Association for Search and Rescue is a volunteer organization with more than 100 rescue units which are located in almost every part of the country. All the units contain groups of specially trained individuals.[58]

ICE-SAR is a specialized rubble rescue squad and was the first rescue squad to arrive in Haiti following the earthquake of 2010.[59]

Ireland

A search and rescue demonstration by an Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky S-61 helicopter and a RNLI lifeboat.

SAR services are provided by a civilian body, the Irish Coast Guard.[60] It has responsibility for the Irish Search and Rescue Region.[60]

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution RNLI provide the waterborne element of Search and Rescue around the coast of Ireland from 43 lifeboat stations including inland stations at Enniskillen and Lough Derg.[61] In addition, there are community rescue boats at eleven stations: Cahore, Tramore, Bunmahon, Bantry, Derrynane, Banna, Ballybunion, Kilkee, Schull, Limerick City, Corrib/Mask.[62] The coastguard also has inshore rescue boats around the country.[63]

Mountain Rescue in Ireland is provided by 12 voluntary teams based in different regions of the country.[64]

The Irish Defence Forces are assigned from time to time to carry out search and rescue operations.[65] Ireland's special forces, the Army Ranger Wing have been used for search and rescue operations in difficult or dangerous operations on land and at sea.[66][67] The Irish Naval Service frequently assists the other agencies in search and rescue. Its patrol ships at sea and the communications center at Haulbowline maintain a 24 hour watch on all distress frequencies.[68] The Irish Air Corps are used for rescue and provide top cover for search and rescue over land or sea.[69]

Israel

Helicopter of Magen David Adom

SAR in Israel is the responsibility of the IDF Home Front Command Search and Rescue (SAR). The unit was established at its current strength in 1984, combining all the specialist units that were involved with SAR until that time.[70]

The SAR unit is a rapid mobilization force and has an airborne transport and deployment capability for its personnel and equipment. The unit is composed of reserve personnel, with a regular cadre based at the Bahad 16 Unit training facility. With a focus on urban SAR, the unit operates specialized equipment, including a locally developed device for locating persons trapped under rubble by detecting seismic and acoustic emissions given off by the victims. The SAR unit also uses Search and rescue dogs specially trained to locate people buried under debris.

Israeli SAR resources

Italy

Italian Guardia Costiera CP-902 U. Diciotti

Search and rescue is the responsibility of the Guardia Costiera.[71]

Macau

Macau's maritime SAR is conducted by two units:

The Macau Marine Department and responsible for maritime SAR within Macau's waterways. The Macau Search and Rescue Coordination Centre is under the Vessel Traffic Control Centre of Macao of the Maritime Administration of Macau.[72]

Land and air based SAR is conducted by Macau's Corpo de Bombeiros de Macau (fire services). Air rescue operations may involve private contractors like Sky Shuttle Helicopters.

Malta

The responsibility for SAR at sea in the Malta Search and Rescue Region falls under the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM). It is carried out by maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and vessels under the co-ordination, command and control of the Rescue Co-ordination Centre.[73]

The AFM, in close collaboration with the US Coast Guard, also runs a Search and Rescue Training Centre for International Students [1] in Maritime SAR Mission Co-ordination and Planning.[74] To date more than 30 foreign students from 15 countries including Albania, Cameroon, Croatia, Equatorial Guinea and Kenya have attended these courses.[75][76]

Malta is also in talks with Libya about enhancing SAR cooperation between the two countries.[77]

Netherlands

SAR responsibility in the Netherlands is held by the Royal Netherlands Coast Guard, carried out by vessels and aircraft from various organisations among which mostly the Koninklijke Nederlandse Redding Maatschappij with 40 fast rescue vessels and between 1824 til 2006 answered 36358 distress calls and rescued in that same periode about 79887 people out of distress situations, the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management and the Navy and Air Force.[78] The Navy has No. 7 Squadron which flies the SAR and utility version of the Lynx maritime helicopter. The RNLAF has a specialized SAR unit, 303 Squadron, which is equipped with Agusta-Bell AB 412s and based at RNLAF Leeuwarden.

New Zealand

New Zealand's Search and Rescue Region extends from the South Pole to the southern border of the Honolulu region, including Norfolk, Tonga, Samoa, and Cook Islands.[79]

Smaller searches are controlled by the local police, who call on LandSAR for land-based operations, such as for lost hikers, and the Royal New Zealand Coastguard for coastal maritime incidents. Larger maritime search and rescue events, as well as reports of overdue aircraft, fall under the control of the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ), based in Avalon, which coordinates response from local coastguard, helicopter operators, merchant marine, air force and naval resources.[79][80][81]

Other resources:

Norway

The veteran Norwegian rescue ship Biskop Hvoslef

Norsk Selskab til Skibbrudnes Redning, also called the Redningsselskapet (English: Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (NSSR)), is Norway's maritime rescue service. They have 43 search and rescue boats based from Oslo in the south to Båtsfjord in the north. Thirteen of these boats are operated by volunteers.[82]

The NSSR was founded on 9 July 1891, with a clearly defined goal – to save lives at sea. The NSSR is a humanitarian organization aiming at saving lives and recovering property at sea. Maintaining rescue services along the Norwegian coast, and neighbouring sea areas where such services may be necessary. The NSSR also runs an information service and educational programs designed to improve safety for boaters. The first rescue boats, the Colin Archer-class, were introduced in 1893. They were powered by only by sails and oars. NSSR’s boats and crew have saved over 6,200 people. More than 500,000 people have received assistance.[82]

The search and rescue helicopters are operated by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF), who fly 12 Westland Sea Kings. The Sea Kings are due to be replaced within 2020[83]

Portugal

Three different agencies are responsible for providing search and rescue in Portugal. The Portuguese Navy is responsible for all sea rescues, the Portuguese Air Force[84] for all the rescues originating within the airspace, including aircraft crashes and the Autoridade Nacional de Protecção Civil (ANPC) for all inland rescues. All of the above coordinate closely with each other providing a comprehensive search and rescue service.

The Portuguese area of responsibility is the second largest in the world, only to Canada's. It compromises the Lisbon Flight Information Region (FIR) and Santa Maria FIR.[85]

Poland

A Polish Navy W-3 Sokół SAR helicopter hoists a crew member

In Poland most search and rescue operations are undertaken by the airborne units of the Polish Armed Forces. The Navy currently has the largest SAR fleet of helicopters and also operates a number of small vessels for the purpose of rescuing crewmen of stricken ships. There is also, however a semi-governmental organisation known as the 'Morska Służba Poszukiwania i Ratownictwa' (Maritime Search and Rescue Service)[86] which provides the vast majority of seaborne services to vessels in distress; the service is currently (as of 2010) in the process of overhauling and replacing a large portion of its fleet of lifeboats.

South Africa

Search and Rescue services are offered by various government departments, non governmental organizations, commercial/private organizations and voluntary organizations organisations in South Africa. There is no single organisation responsible for urban, wilderness, swift water, aviation or maritime/sea rescue.

Aviation and maritime incidents are the responsibility of the South African Search and Rescue Organization (SASAR). SASAR is a voluntary organization that functions under the auspices of the Department of Transport. Its main role is to search for, assist and carry out rescue operations for the survivors of aircraft or vessel accidents. Depending on the nature of the accident, the RCC's (ARCC or MRCC) coordinate the search and rescue missions. These operations are carried out by other government departments, non governmental organizations, commercial/private organizations and voluntary organizations.[87]

Local resources:

Spain

CASA CN-235 Maritime Patrol aircraft of the Sociedad de Salvamento y Seguridad Maritima.

Search and rescue duties in Spain are the responsibility of the national government, in conjunction with regional and municipal governments. The Sociedad de Salvamento y Seguridad Marítima is the main organization, and has overall responsibility for the maritime search and rescue, that also coordinates the SAR efforts with other agencies:[91]

  • Spanish Navy
  • Spanish Air Force
  • Servicio de Vigilancia Aduanera
  • Servicio Marítimo de la Guardia Civil
  • Instituto Social de la Marina
  • Spanish Red Cross

Sweden

The Swedish Maritime Administration is responsible for maritime SAR in Swedish waters.[92]

Switzerland

REGA Agusta A109 K2.

REGA (Schweizerische REttungsflugwacht / Garde Aérienne / Guardia Aerea) is the air rescue service which provides emergency medical assistance in Switzerland, notably in mountains but also in cases of life-threatening emergencies elsewhere. They will also return a citizen to Switzerland from a foreign country if they are in need of urgent medical care. Rega was established on 27 April 1952 by Dr. Rudolf Bucher, who thought that the Swiss rescue organisation needed a specialised air sub-section.[93]

Ukraine

In Ukraine search and rescue is conducted by the State Search and Rescue Aviation Service of the Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine Ukraviaposhuk.[94]

United Kingdom

In the UK, maritime search and rescue is coordinated by HM Coastguard while aeronautical rescue is delegated through the UK Ministry of Defence to the Royal Air Force, and land-based operations are usually coordinated by the local Police force. The operation itself is carried out with aircraft from the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force or Coastguard, RNLI lifeboats and police, military or volunteer mountain rescue or ALSAR (Association of Lowland Search and Rescue) teams. Aeronautical rescue and associated aircraft coordination is carried out by the UK Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) based at RAF Kinloss in the north of Scotland. The centre is responsible for tasking and coordinating all of the UK's search and rescue helicopter and RAF mountain rescue teams.[95][96]

In 2006, the government announced controversial plans to effectively privatise provision of search and rescue helicopters in order to replace the aging Sea Kings currently in use, although they have suggested that crews may, at least partially, still be made up of military personnel.[97] In February 2010, Soteria SAR was announced as the preferred bidder for the UK SAR programme.[98]

Local resources include:

United States of America

In the US there are many organizations with SAR responsibilities at the national, state and local level.

In January 2008, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the National Response Framework which, serves as the guiding document for a federal response during a national emergency. Search and Rescue is divided into 4 primary elements, while assigning a federal agency with the lead role for each of the 4 elements.[104]

In the US SAR standards are developed primarily by ASTM International and the US NFPA which are then used by organizations such as the Mountain Rescue Association (MRA), the US National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR), and the US NFPA to develop training that will meet or exceed those standards.[105] Within ASTM International, most standards of relevance to SAR are developed by Committee F32 on Search and Rescue. Formed in 1988, the committee had 85 current members and jurisdiction of 38 approved standards.[105]

Vietnam

In Vietnam, the Department of Rescue is directly under the command of Ministry of Defence. The Department of Rescue was established in 2004 with roles including search, rescue and disaster relief.

In addition, the Vietnam Firefighting Force is another rescue force which is responsible for rescuing people during fires. The force is under command of the Ministry of Public Security.

Aircraft

Rotary and fixed wing aircraft are used for air and sea rescue. A list of common aircraft used:

  • Bell UH-1 Iroquois
    • Bell CH-146 Griffon

See also

References

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