Search and rescue

Search and rescue volunteers provide support to regional police, fire rescue, security, and first aid services throughout Alberta.

Services and information

This program expands and enhances opportunities for ground search and rescue training.

Overview

Search and rescue volunteers provide support to regional police, fire rescue, security and first aid services throughout Alberta. The Search and Rescue Association of Alberta (SAR) represents almost 1,500 of these volunteers in 6 regions and 35 teams.

SAR Alberta members provide services to Albertans and visitors to our province through several tasking bodies:

  • law enforcement
  • municipal emergency services
  • relevant provincial ministry
  • Parks Canada

The Office of the Fire Commissioner supports SAR Alberta and eligible ground search and rescue groups in a variety of ways, including:

  • protection of volunteers from legal liability
  • providing disability insurance and Workers' Compensation coverage in case of accidents during search events

Operations

Alberta search and rescue teams operate in many rescue situations and environments, including:

  • wilderness
  • rope
  • confined space
  • structural collapse (light to heavy urban search and rescue)
  • swift water
  • avalanche
  • trench
  • cave rescue

Incident response

SAR teams find, stabilize and evacuate people who are in distress, and handle incidents in the following way:

  • After getting a call from the police, municipality, applicable provincial ministry or Parks Canada, the on-call SAR manager alerts the team.
  • The team assembles at a predetermined place.
  • Each member signs in and is accounted for from the start to the termination of the incident.
  • The team departs for the incident scene (missing or lost person or a rescue).
  • At the scene, the following are established:
    • base of operations
    • staging area
    • communication
  • The search manager plans the response, taking into account available resources, expertise and training, while continuously gathering information about the incident.
  • Teams are deployed, communicating with base by radio and cellphones.
  • On locating the missing person, the team administers necessary medical aid. Additional technical rescue resources may need to be deployed.
  • More resources may be mobilized if the search needs to be expanded and/or teams need relief.
  • The search ends when the tasking agency stands the teams down. The plans to initiate the stand-down procedures are in place from the initial call.

Reports

When a search and rescue team is dispatched to assist, it is called tasking. The Office of the Fire Commissioner tracks all tasks assigned to search and rescue teams. The situational reports chronicle Alberta's search and rescue members' tasks, training and related activities.

Forms

Workers' Compensation Board coverage

Other resources