SAR NEW INITIATIVES FUND
Evaluating technology, human factors and training
elements for life raft use
The Canadian Coast Guard has launched a research project to assess life raft operational performance in terms of technical capabilities in a wide range of weather conditions.
Funded by the New Search and Rescue Initiatives Fund, the three-year project will help researchers find the quantitative information necessary to measure life raft performance. Currently, not much is known about how life rafts perform as the weather deteriorates, the physical and cognitive demands upon personnel operating the life raft, or the competencies required and necessary training to be developed.
Both model and full-scale trials will be performed to determine the technical performance of the life rafts during inclement weather. The results of these model performance trials, and human factor assessments made throughout, will allow for a practical critique of current training standards for life raft use.
With the increased practical knowledge gained through this project, casualty
survival time will be increased and the risk to search and rescue personnel
will be reduced. It will improve the safety of personnel work on, or travel
Update: Preparing for tsunamis in the Pacific
This project was funded by the New Search and Rescue Initiatives Fund to provide information to British Columbia's marine and search and rescue communities of expected tsunami heights, arrival times and currents along coastal waters through detailed, high-resolution bathymetric data* to provide accurate simulations of currents in vulnerable areas.
In light of the 2004 tsunami in Asia, this project is timely. When the project was proposed, there was no reliable information on the effects of a Cascadia Subduction Zone tsunami on the coastal communities in southern and western Vancouver Island.
It is expected this zone will generate a severe earthquake and tsunami in the next few hundred years and it is necessary to develop plans and evacuation routes for mariners and others living in coastal towns. An earthquake registering a seven or eight on the Richter scale can cause a tsunami with a height of five metres or more.
According to recent project reports, excellent results have been achieved from the modeling efforts to date, with a summary of results and recommendations for use by search and rescue managers and responders in the months to come.
More information about this project is available in SARSCENE Magazine, Volume 13, #2.
*Bathymetry is the measurement of water depth at various places in
a body of water.
Designated as "Region 1" by the Sûreté du Québec, the area between the lower St. Lawrence/Gaspésie and Iles de la Madeleine covers more than 22,000 square kilometres and has a population of more than 200,000.
Noticing there was a shortage of well-trained search and rescue volunteers, as well as equipment, the Sûreté du Québec knew something had to be done to provide an effective search and rescue service in the area.
Their solution was the Quick and Efficient Response Unit project, funded by the New Search and Rescue Initiatives Fund.
This one-year project is designed to provide search and rescue volunteers with the necessary basic equipment and training to improve their search and rescue capabilities.
After evaluating all the needs, the solution was to build a light, well-equipped
truck that is ready no matter what the season and can be driven on all
kinds of roads and trails to ensure a fast and efficient response. The
truck will have the required logistical support, will serve as a command
post and could later be available for team training.
With a comprehensive and focused education program, the AdventureSmart project is designed to reduce the number and severity of these incidents.
Funded by the New Search and Rescue Initiatives Fund, in partnership with B.C. Provincial Emergency Program, AdventureSmart is a public education program that has been created to provide knowledge and understanding concerning the risks associated with outdoor recreational activities.
Limited education and awareness programs are currently being delivered to a small segment of the B.C. community, but do not have enough resources. AdventureSmart will act as the B.C.-wide banner to co-ordinate a more effective program.
There are eight core programs under the AdventureSmart banner, including:
The focus of AdventureSmart is to provide increased knowledge and awareness
to outdoor recreationists and assist in their making wise choices to reduce
the chances of becoming lost or injured when participating in outdoor
Distance learning for SAR managers
The RCMP, in partnership with the Justice Institute of B.C., has developed an innovative distance learning package on CD-ROM to teach advanced search management skills. Funded by the New Search and Rescue Initiatives Fund, the training package serves as both training for SAR managers to remain current, as well as a training module for police officers for the role of SAR Manager or SAR Commander.
This package makes training more accessible because it can be done from any computer at the individual's pace - and it can be reviewed regularly.
The training will be based on, and will enhance, the existing SAR Commander
awareness training already delivered to B.C. police constables through
the Justice Institute of B.C.
Risk assessment for recreational boating
But little research has been done on the patterns of recreational boating in Canada. To assist in search and rescue planning and develop prevention programs, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has identified a need to know more about patterns, such as; frequency, location and type of activity.
The Marine Activity and Risk Investigation Network (MARIN) Research Group at Dalhousie University has developed a location-based risk analysis study that will provide important information to assist with prevention strategies for recreational boating.
Funded by the New Search and Rescue Initiatives Fund and sponsored by the CCG, this three-year project will determine boating traffic characteristics and traffic patterns, determine nationwide recreational boating patterns and characteristics, determine the significant risk factors associated with recreational boating, and develop an effective way to communicate the results in plain language to increase the effectiveness of prevention programs.
The CCG uses significant resources when responding to search and rescue
cases involving recreational boats, therefore having traffic models and
associated risk measures will result in a more efficient distribution
of response resources and better prevention programs.
More information about the New SAR Initiatives Fund