September 21, 2010 14:20 ET

First National Northern SAR Exercise to be Held in Whitehorse

WHITEHORSE, YUKON--(Marketwire - Sept. 21, 2010) - For the first time ever, the National Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) will be held in Whitehorse, Yukon, from 20 to 25 September 2010. This major exercise, organized by 19 Wing Comox B.C., involves Canadian Forces search and rescue aircraft and roughly 200 personnel from across the country in a week of training and competition. 

"Each year, search and rescue personnel save hundreds of lives across Canada," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "With exercises like these, we ensure the Canadian search and rescue system works and that it enhances our ability to perform from coast to coast to coast, especially in remote areas such as the Canadian North, where other forms of help are not necessarily readily available."

"Exercising SAR techniques and procedures is a daily occurrence for all Canadian Forces SAR units," said Colonel Michel Lalumière, 19 Wing commander. "But the National SAREX is crucial for search and rescue practitioners to standardize and evaluate SAR procedures. It is also a chance to conduct large-scale SAR scenarios, this year for the first time in a strategic location: the Canadian North."

The National SAREX also provides a unique opportunity for Canadian Forces SAR units to work with regional and local SAR and emergency organizations.

"The Canadian SAR system relies on our ability to work efficiently with organizations outside of the Canadian Forces," said Col. Lalumière. "The SAREX will strengthen our relationship with the Yukon Emergency Measures Organization, the regional Civil Air Search and Rescue Association and our American partners, enhancing our capability to conduct search and rescue operations in that region."

Among the participants will be some of the Canada's most elite airmen and airwomen: search and rescue technicians, commonly known as "SAR techs". They are trained in advanced trauma life-support, land and sea survival, and specialized rescue techniques, including Arctic rescue, parachuting, diving, mountain-climbing and rappelling.

This year SAREX will include the participation from SAR units from the United States Coast Guard from Alaska, the United States Air Force from Florida and Oregon, and a group of observers from Europe.

For more information, visit the SAREX 2010 website at

Note to the editor: For media interested in covering the SAREX 2010, images and B-Roll will be made available to media.

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