Top 10 Canadian weather stories of 2004
New computer improves weather forecasting
Canada and U.S. Integrate Weather Forecasting
"Our goal is to ensure that Canadians and Americans get the same forecasts regardless of which side of the border they live on," said Minister Dion. "Soon, border communities such as Windsor and Detroit; Calais, Maine and St. Andrews, New Brunswick; Vancouver and Bellingham, Washington will benefit from forecasts based on shared data from Canadian and American observations."
Canadian and American agencies have been working since 2003 to develop the North American Ensemble Forecast System. The scope of the system can be expanded, shown by the involvement of the National Meteorological Service of Mexico.
Implications of increased PLB use
There are approximately 1,500 PLBs registered in Canada and in July 2003, PLBs were approved for use in the United States. Since then, over 5,000 have been registered in the United States and this number is expected to increase exponentially.
Further, the new U.S. market for PLB technology may result in an influx of American backcountry users in Canada carrying beacons. This in turn will stimulate both the retail and rental markets in Canada.
The overall predicted effects are: more units, more use and more alerts.
Currently, when a beacon goes off, the alert is relayed to a land-based station and then directed to the Canadian Mission Control Centre (CMCC) in Trenton, Ont. The CMCC then directs suspected alerts to the appropriate Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (Victoria, B.C., Trenton, Ont. or Halifax, N.S.) who will disseminate it to the proper authority for action.
However, with the expected increase in beacon usage and alerts, it is important to think about the time and effort that goes into investigating the alerts. Increased duties would fall to the provincial and territorial governments and their ground search and rescue teams to prosecute more alerts. This, in turn, would put increased pressure on teams' physical and financial resources.
More information will be available in the next issue of SARSCENE Magazine Online.
SAR Directory survey results
The survey indicated support for new features such as searching SAR organizations
by smaller regions. The Directory could, they indicated, also be used
to enable communication amongst SAR groups for group purchasing and other
442 Squadron opens new hangar
"442 Squadron performs a vital search and rescue role that supports Canadians," said Col. Ambler. "It is exciting to be a part of this project, which is critical to the Squadron fulfilling its role and additionally provides a safer, technologically advanced, environmentally friendly atmosphere."
The new hangar is currently home to CC-115 Buffalo aircraft and their ground crews. Hangar 14 was created to provide an earthquake-resistant hangar for planes and ground crews, so search and rescue missions could still be performed in the event of an on-base emergency.
"This means that following any such incidence, both aircraft and personnel can immediately be dispatched to deal with the after-effects of such an occurrence," said Lt.-Governor Campagnolo.
SAR operations in the UK: an inquiry
Search and rescue responsibilities are divided amongst many government organizations and part of the inquiry examined the effectiveness of the co-ordination. In addition, the committee looked into the use and effectiveness of volunteers in search and rescue efforts.
Although the committee focused on operational effectiveness, training, and funding for marine and coastal search and rescue operations, the main focus was to acknowledge the importance of volunteers in the national search and rescue program and to determine if voluntary organizations need further funding or government support.
In its final response to the committee, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency pointed out that most of the increase in the number of deaths in the marine environment were attributable to the agency taking on responsibility for areas which were previously outside its SAR coverage. The true number of incidents remains fairly steady.
The report determined that further work is needed on financial and tax incentives for employers who release their employees for emergency call-outs. As well, work is needed to find ways to compensate self-employed volunteers.
"The Government must propose new incentives which reward employers whose employees take time off work to provide SAR services, whether in the voluntary or statutory sectors. Different treatment for these particular volunteers is justified because of the combination of their pivotal role in the UK's emergency and SAR services and the unpredictability of call-outs," said the committee in their final report to Parliament.
However, the report does go on to say that tax incentives alone will not be enough to help volunteer organizations fund their operations. The committee's recommendation was that volunteer organizations receive additional funding from the state since they provide an essential service that cannot be foregone despite other international commitments of government resources.
Canada Post designed the stamps in collaboration with the National Search and Rescue Secretariat and SAR groups across Canada, around four themes: an alpine rescue, a maritime rescue, an air rescue and a ground rescue using a dog.
The stamp unveiling will be held June 13 in Victoria, B.C., with representatives from Canada Post and SAR organizations. The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria is organizing a SAR demonstration in conjunction with the event.
MOU boosts boating safety
Replacing the previous vessel, Advent, which had been based in Cobourg for several years, Cape Mercy's speed will be an asset in search and rescue missions. While it would take the Advent five hours to travel from Burlington, Ont. to Cobourg, it took just three hours with the new vessel.
"It means someone in the water would be rescued much sooner," said Captain Colin Slade. "That could mean the difference between someone suffering from hypothermia or not. The speed is definitely going to impact our operations."
Joint Canada and U.S. exercise tests response capabilities
"This is the first major exercise with the U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska in some time," said Major Chuck Grenkow, Officer in Charge of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria.
Designed to increase the awareness of each country's capabilities and resources, the 15-hour, early April exercise included participation from the Victoria and Juneau Rescue Co-ordination Centres, two Canadian Coast Guard ships, three Canadian Navy ships, a CC-115 Buffalo and U.S. Coast Guard ships and aircraft.
"In addition to the practical aspects of working together on the water and in the air, it is important to exercise and evaluate the internal and external 'real-time' communications that are critical to both the command centres and search and rescue units," added Maj. Grenkow.
Captain Mike Kendall of the U.S. Coast Guard, and Chief of Search and Rescue Alaska, sees this exercise as an excellent opportunity to bolster an already strong relationship with the Canadian Forces.
"We are looking forward to honing our co-operation with our Canadian search and rescue partners and provide an even better service to mariners on our common maritime border," he said.
CCG College opens new technical training centre
The new MMET will offer training to those Coast Guard employees responsible
for the repair, maintenance and physical operation of Coast Guard technological
systems. These systems include the electronic, navigational and communications
system essential for mariners to navigate safely in our waterways and
to operate the Coast Guard fleet.
Though stationed at the College, the Centre will not be used as part
of the current cadet program, but for Coast Guard's Integrated Technical
Services, and Fleet and Maritime Services employees.