Esquimalt’s Search and Rescue team conducts training

USAR team members work together to conduct a 30-ton heavy lift and move exercise.

USAR team members work together to conduct a 30-ton heavy lift and move exercise. Photo: Sub-Lieutenant Wilson Ho – USAR Team Member

Sub-Lieutenant Wilson Ho 
MARPAC Public Affairs 
Urban Search and Rescue Team

Commander Maritime Forces Pacific, Rear-Admiral Christopher Robinson, signed a Maritime Forces Pacific Order (MARPACORD) in June of this year, officially establishing the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team as a unit at CFB Esquimalt.

“The signing of the MARPACORD last month is a great step forward for the team,” said Glenn Cooper, the CFB Esquimalt USAR Team Commander. “The team has been operational for over 22 years and we’re looking forward to seeing how they continue to grow and develop, and become a mainstay for the base, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the general public.”

The USAR Team has been an integral part of CFB Esquimalt for years before the MARPACORD took effect.

The Team conducted its monthly training on June 29 at the USAR Compound near Naval Officer Training Centre Venture in Esquimalt. The training allows team members to practice search and rescue skills and techniques in a variety of complex scenarios.

The team was split into two with the objective to conduct a 30-ton heavy lift from one area to another, and conduct a patient package and vertical lift extraction, where a member is hoisted down, packs up a patient in a stretcher, and then is extracted back up together with the patient. These types of scenarios allow the USAR Team to train in a realistic and challenging environment. All USAR members get trained in hazard and structural assessments, structural collapse rescue, confined space rescue and low/high angle rope rescues.

The Team was conceived after CFB Esquimalt found a critical need for self-recovery capability in the event of an earthquake on the West Coast. While USAR supports the Joint Task Force (Pacific) (JTF(P)) operations, their primary responsibility is to conduct rescue operations for CFB Esquimalt in the event of a structural collapse.

In order to meet the MARPACORD, more JTF(P) personnel is needed to meet the standards of Canadian and International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Medium Urban Search and Rescue (MUSAR). The CFB Esquimalt USAR Team is actively recruiting for more CAF members to join its ranks. The USAR Team trains 20 days a year, on the last Wednesday of every month except in December, and two week-long exercises each year. No prior qualifications or experiences are required to join.

Interested CAF members are asked to go to the CFB Esquimalt USAR Recruiting website on the DWAN (collaboration-navy.forces.mil.ca/sites/ESQ_USAR/SitePages/Home.aspx), and
submit their applications (with Chain of Command authorization) via email to the indicated personnel on the webpage, or to glenn.cooper@forces.gc.ca.

A USAR member is hoisted down during a vertical lift exercise while other members of the USAR Team observe.  Photo: Sub-Lieutenant Wilson Ho – USAR Team Member

A USAR member is hoisted down during a vertical lift exercise while other members of the USAR Team observe. Photo: Sub-Lieutenant Wilson Ho – USAR Team Member

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