Coquitlam Search and Rescue is planning our yearly Helicopter training day with Talon Helicopters on Sunday, June 2nd 2013, and this year we’re trying something new. We’ve invited Guardian UAV Services Canada (Guardian UAV) to attend and demonstrate some of their Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and related technology.
In order to maintain a high level of expertise, Coquitlam SAR puts all regular members through a yearly helicopter training seminar and field day which consists of a classroom training session to familiarize members with helicopter operations, communications, hand signals and safety. The practical session involves a pilot safety briefing, familiarization with the machine (AS 350B), stretcher loading drill, sling loading operations, followed by a hover exit drill where members climb into and out of the hovering helicopter in a simulation of a standard maneuver SAR teams throughout BC use to transport field members and equipment.
Also planned was our annual HETS (class D or long line rescue) recertification for the 13 team members we trained in this technique last year. However, because of ongoing issues with certification of the equipment by Transport Canada, Coquitlam SAR has been unable to purchase the equipment necessary actually perform a rescue using this tool. This issue, which has been dragging on for over seven months, effectively grounded many of the Search and Rescue teams in BC, and only by “recertifying” existing equipment have teams managed to continue using it. Since Coquitlam SAR needed to purchase new gear, we were not able to go the recertification route, which left us with no equipment. Currently at least one other SAR team in BC is in this situation.
HETS was used in the recent rescue of three hikers on Eagle Ridge on May 18th and 19th: Coquitlam SAR called in North Shore Rescue to help, on one of the busiest weekends for SAR in BC this year with over 12 operations throughout the province in a single day.
In a first for Coquitlam SAR, and possibly for BC, we’ve asked a local company that provides Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to come out to our training day and demonstrate some of their technology for us.
An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, usually a helicopter or an airplane, is any aircraft that is either remotely operated or autonomous (capable of making simple flight decisions or following a path). Recent developments in this technology, which include remote control, remote video, infra-red and other sensors, have proven very promising and some reports even credit a UAV with finding a lost person in a recent search in Saskatchewan. Coquitlam SAR, often active in investigating new technology, contacted Guardian UAV services to bring one of their units out to our training session on Sunday.
SAR Managers, ground team leaders and regular members will benefit from seeing this technology in action, allowing us to better understand the benefits and limitations, and how it might be applied to search operations. Guardian UAV reports that they will be bringing one of their fixed wing units. We hope to get a good idea of the operational range of these devices, and see how they will fit in with other technology, already in use.
Coquitlam SAR, Contact