Search and rescue


Search and rescue (SAR) is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger. The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, typically determined by the type of terrain the search is conducted over. These include mountain rescue; ground search and rescue, including the use of search and rescue dogs (such as K9 units); urban search and rescue in cities; combat search and rescue on the battlefield and air-sea rescue over water.

A Canadian Forces AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant helicopter hoists a man from a Canadian Coast Guard ship
A SAR cruiser of the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service

International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) is a UN organisation that promotes the exchange of information between national urban search and rescue organisations. The duty to render assistance is covered by Article 98 of the UNCLOS.

Definitions Edit

There are many different definitions of search and rescue, depending on the agency involved and country in question.

  • Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Coast Guard: "Search and Rescue comprises the search for, and provision of aid to, persons, ships or other craft which are, or are feared to be, in distress or imminent danger."[1][2]
  • United States Coast Guard: "The use of available resources to assist persons or property in potential or actual distress."[3]
  • United States Department of Defense: A search is "an operation normally coordinated by a Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) or rescue sub-center, using available personnel and facilities to locate persons in distress" and rescue is "an operation to retrieve persons in distress, provide for their initial medical or other needs, and deliver them to a place of safety".[4]

History Edit

One of the world's earliest well-documented SAR efforts ensued following the 1656 wreck of the Dutch merchant ship Vergulde Draeck off the west coast of Australia. Survivors sought help, and in response three separate SAR missions were conducted, without success.[5][better source needed]

On 29 November 1945, a Sikorsky R-5 performed the first civilian helicopter rescue operation in history, with Sikorsky's chief pilot Dmitry "Jimmy" Viner in the cockpit, using an experimental hoist developed jointly by Sikorsky and Breeze. All five crew members of an oil barge, which had run aground on Penfield Reef, were saved before the barge sank.[6]

In 1983, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 with 269 occupants was shot down by a Soviet aircraft near Sakhalin. The Soviets sent SAR helicopters and boats to Soviet waters, while a search and rescue operation was initiated by U.S., South Korean, and Japanese ships and aircraft in international waters, but no survivors were found.[7]

In July 2009, Air France Flight 447 was lost in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. An international SAR effort was launched, to no avail. A third effort nearly two years later discovered the crash site and recovered the flight recorders.

In early 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crashed under mysterious circumstances. Many nations contributed to the initial SAR effort, which was fruitless. In June 2014, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau commissioned the MV Fugro Equator to lead a three-month survey of the ocean bed. As of 2014, the search for Flight 370 had become the largest SAR to date.[8][9]

Types of search and rescue Edit

Rescue rope training
Search and Rescue students give the "I am all right" signal to let the SAR instructors know that they are ready for further instructions at the pool on board Naval Station San Diego.

Ground (lowland) search and rescue Edit

Ground search and rescue is the search for persons who are lost or in distress on land or inland waterways. People may go missing for a variety of reasons. Some may disappear voluntarily, due to issues like domestic abuse. Others disappear for involuntary reasons such as mental illness, getting lost, an accident, death in a location where they cannot be found or, less commonly, due to abduction. Ground search and rescue missions that occur in urban areas should not be confused with "urban search and rescue", which in many jurisdictions refers to the location and extraction of people from collapsed buildings or other entrapments.[10]

In some countries, the police are the primary agency for carrying out searches for a missing person on land. Some places have voluntary search and rescue teams that can be called out to assist these searches.

Search and rescue agencies may contain small specialist teams for executing operations where there are specific environmental risks. Examples include swift water rescue, flood response, technical rope rescue, confined space rescue, over-snow rescue, and thin ice rescue.

Mountain rescue Edit

Mountain rescue relates to search and rescue operations specifically in rugged and mountainous terrain.

Cave rescue Edit

Cave rescue is a highly specialised form of rescue for rescuing injured, trapped or lost cave explorers.

Urban search and rescue Edit

Urban search and rescue (US&R or USAR), also referred to as Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR), is the location and rescue of persons from collapsed buildings or other urban and industrial entrapments. Due to the specialised nature of the work, most teams are multi-disciplinary and include personnel from police, fire and emergency medical services. Unlike traditional ground search and rescue workers, most US&R responders also have basic training in structural collapse and the dangers associated with live electrical wires, broken natural gas lines and other hazards. While earthquakes have traditionally been the cause of US&R operations, terrorist attacks and extreme weather such as tornadoes and hurricanes have also resulted in the deployment of these resources.[11]

Combat search and rescue Edit

Combat search and rescue (CSAR) is search and rescue operations that are carried out during war that are within or near combat zones.[12][unreliable source?]

Maritime search and rescue Edit

A US Navy rescue swimmer swims toward a stranded boat near Guam in 2019

Maritime search and rescue is carried out at sea to save sailors and passengers in distress, or the survivors of downed aircraft. The type of agency which carries out maritime search and rescue varies by country; it may variously be the coast guard, navy or voluntary organisations. When a distressed or missing vessel is located, these organisations deploy helicopters, rescue vessels or any other appropriate vessel to return them to land. In some cases, the agencies may carry out an air-sea rescue (ASR). This refers to the combined use of aircraft (such as flying boats, floatplanes, amphibious helicopters and non-amphibious helicopters equipped with hoists) and surface vessels.[13] The International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR Convention) is the legal framework that applies to international maritime and air-sea rescue.[14]

By nation Edit

Australia Edit

A rescue air crewman aboard Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service Lifesaver 1 in action.

The Australian search and rescue service is provided by three authorities; the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the State/Territory Police Jurisdictions. In a very broad sense, the JRCC respond to national and international registered aircraft, off shore marine incidents and beacon activations. The ADF are responsible for Australian and foreign military personnel, vehicles, vessels and aircraft while within the Australian SRR. Police are responsible for coastal marine incidents, lost persons, unregistered aircraft, inland waterways, ports and identified beacons.[15] The JRCC operates a 24-hour Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Canberra and is responsible for the national coordination of both maritime and aviation search and rescue. The JRCC is also responsible for the management and operation of the Australian ground segment of the Cospas-Sarsat distress beacon detection system. The JRCC's jurisdiction spans Australia and as well as covering 52.8 million square kilometres of the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans[15] constituting about 11% of the Earth's surface.[16]

The JRCC is staffed by SAR specialists who have a naval, merchant marine, air force, civil aviation or police service background. The JRCC also coordinates medical evacuations, broadcasts maritime safety information and operates the Australian Ship Reporting System (AUSREP).[15] In coordinating search and rescue missions, the JRCC will call on assistance from organisations as appropriate,[17] such as the Defence forces, Border Protection Command, trained aviation organisations (Civil SAR Units), emergency medical helicopters, state Police services and trained Air Observers from the State Emergency Service.[18] There are also other organisations, such as the non-profit Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service that is based at a number of sites around Australia and contracted by various authorities to deliver search and rescue services.

BSAR searchers at Mount Dom Dom.

State Police in many states operate state-based search and rescue squads, such as the Victoria Police Search and Rescue Squad, which provides specialist expertise, advice and practical assistance in land search and rescue on most terrain including snow and vertical cliff search and rescue.[19] There are also state-based volunteer search and rescue groups such as the NSW SES Bush Search and Rescue in New South Wales and Bush Search and Rescue Victoria[20] in Victoria. These state-based groups draw searchers from bushwalking, mountaineering and specialist rescue clubs within their State. A few groups respond on horseback as mounted search and rescue. The State Emergency Service is a collection of volunteer-based emergency organisations established in each state or territory which are responsible for many rescue efforts in urban and rural areas and in any rescue that results from flood or storm activity. In rural areas the SES conducts most bush search, vertical and road traffic rescues. In urban areas they assist the police and fire services with USAR.[21]

Azerbaijan Edit

Search and rescue operations in Azerbaijan are managed by the Ministry of Emergency Situations onshore in cooperation with the State Civil Aviation Administration in air and the State Maritime Administration offshore.[22]

Belgium Edit

Search and rescue duties along the Belgian part of the North Sea are executed by the Belgian Air Component. From its Koksijde Air Base it operates 5 Westland Sea King Mk.48 helicopters.[23]

Brazil Edit

Search and rescue duties in Brazil are the responsibility of the Salvarmar Brasil (MRCC Brazil), of the Brazilian Navy and Divisão de Busca e Salvamento (D-SAR) (English: Search and Rescue Division), of the Brazilian Air Force.[24]

Canada Edit

Canadian Forces CC-115 Buffalo fixed wing SAR aircraft from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron.
CH-146 Griffon in SAR markings
Boeing-Vertol CH-113 Labrador SAR helicopter, the predecessor of the CH-149 Cormorant
C-130 are also used by the Canadian Forces for SAR operations

Air and marine Search and rescue duties in Canada are the responsibility of the Canadian Forces and Canadian Coast Guard in conjunction with volunteer organisations. The Department of National Defence (DND) has overall responsibility for the coordinated search and rescue system. SAR operations are organised by Joint Rescue Coordination Centres (JRCC). The JRCC are staffed 24 hours a day by SAR Co-ordinators from the Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Forces. Authority for the provision of maritime SAR is assigned to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans by the Canada Shipping Act and the Canada Oceans Act.[1] Ground and inland water search and rescue (GSAR) is the responsibility of provinces and territories with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other police forces coordinating operations, often using volunteer GSAR teams operating in specific areas under provincial coordinating bodies.[25]

The Canada Shipping Act, most recently passed in 2001, is the framework document that funds international SAR activities.[26]

The Canadian Forces have five assigned SAR squadrons:

Plus three Combat Support Squadrons with SAR roles:

Some municipalities and provinces have their own SAR units:

There are also volunteer non-profit associations that conduct SAR in Canada:

Croatia Edit

A boat of the Search and Rescue Service in Trogir, Spring 2014

In Croatia the SAR Service is part of the Croatian Navy and the Croatian Coast Guard with their headquarter in Rijeka.[52]

Cyprus Edit

A Cyprus Air Force AW139 SAR helicopter during a search and rescue demonstration

The Cyprus Republic Search and Rescue (SAR) system is organised by the Cyprus Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC Larnaca).

The JRCC (Greek: Κέντρο Συντονισμού Έρευνας και Διάσωσης) is an independent agency of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus that started its operations on a 24h basis on 7 August 1995 as a unit of the Cyprus Air Force Command.[53]

On 1 March 2002, the JRCC took full responsibility for investigating, organising, coordinating and executing every SAR incident-operation in the Republic of Cyprus Search & Rescue Region (SRR).[53] JRCC Larnaca operated as a military unit until 26 July 2010, when JRCC was transformed to an independent agency under the Ministry of Defence with the Minister being responsible for its operational aspects. Logistic and technical support is the responsibility of the Ministry of Communications & Works.[54] Its primary mission is to organise the Cyprus Republic Search And Rescue system, to co-ordinate, control and direct SAR operations in its area of responsibility (which is identical to the Nicosia FIR), in order to find and rescue people whose lives are at risk, as a result of an air or naval accident, in the least possible time.[55] This is achieved by coordinating all the different agencies involved such as the Cyprus Police Aviation Unit, the Cyprus Port and Naval Police, the Cyprus National Guard Naval Command, the Cyprus National Guard Air Force Command, the Cyprus Civil Defence and other secondary units.[56]

The JRCC reports directly to the operational control of the Ministry of Defence and it is staffed by qualified personnel of the Cyprus National Guard, mainly from the branches of the Navy and the Air Force.[54]

Northern Cyprus Edit

There are also search and rescue teams in Northern Cyprus. Search and rescue operators in Turkish Republic of North Cyprus are primarily:

  • SSTB Civil Defence Organisation Presidency (Turkish : Sivil Savunma Teşkilat Başkanlığı)[57][58]
    • Emergency Management Committee
  • DAK Search and Rescue in Natural Disasters (Turkish : Doğal Afetlerde Arama Kurtarma)[59]
  • AKUT TRNC[60][61]


Denmark Edit

Royal Danish Air Force S-61A with its rescue swimmer

Search and rescue operators in Denmark are primarily: Danish air force Squadron 722, Danish navy air squadron, naval home guard and the Danish Maritime Safety Administration, coordinated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, operated by the navy and air force in the Danish Naval Commands facilities near Aarhus. Internationally the Danish works mainly with Germany, Norway and Sweden. With the two latter, the annual exercises Baltic SAREX[63] and Scan-SAR[64] are conducted.

SAR services in Denmark started in 1957 with seven Sikorsky S-55s. Their piston engines produced only 550 hp (410 kW) and they had limited fuel capacity, so their operational range was short. To increase the operational area, Pembroke twin-engined fixed-wing aircraft were employed for search. These aircraft would localise the distressed person(s) and the S-55s would then rescue them. The SAR service was started for respond to fighter-plane crashes as 79 aircraft crashed, with 62 dead, in the period 1950–1955.,[65] but civilian SAR duties are also conducted.

In 1962, eight ship-based Aérospatiale Alouette IIIs were received. These were primarily meant for the ships patrolling the North Atlantic, but also supported the S-55s. In 1964–1965 the seven S-55s were replaced with eight Sikorsky S-61A helicopters.[66]

In 2007, the Danish Defence held a public display in Horsens, to raise awareness about rescue services and maritime safety. Maritime SAR is important because Denmark has a relative long coast line to its land mass.[67][68]

In 2008, the SAR forces in Denmark were equipped with eight EH-101, one or two Lynx, 34 naval home guard vessels and 21 rescue vessels,[69] as well as the naval vessels at sea. The EH-101s operate from bases in Aalborg, Skrydstrup and Roskilde. When the sea water temperatures are low a helicopter is also deployed to the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. The Lynx operates from Karup. Maritime vessels are spread out through the entire coastline and on islands. The S-61s and EH-101s have a crew of six: two pilots, a navigator, a flight engineer, a physician and a rescue swimmer.

Estonia Edit

SAR training by the Estonian Border Guard.

The Estonian Border Guard (Piirivalve) is the Estonian security authority responsible for the border security. It is the main support organisation for search and rescue missions in Estonia, and operates a small fleet of SAR vessels and helicopters.[70]

Finland Edit

In Finland local rescue services (i.e. fire departments) are responsible for land and inland water SAR, the Border Guard is responsible for maritime areas. These organisations alert and decide on the most suitable response for the location and situation. The country also has several volunteer organisations such as the volunteer fire department (VPK),[71] the Finnish Lifeboat Institution (SMPS)[72] and the Red Cross Finland (SPR).[73]

France Edit

A French all-weather lifeboat from the SNSM.

The Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM) provides sea rescue on the French coast and at seas. In 2016, they helped 7,500 people in 5,200 rescues. The service has 41 all-weather rescue boats, 34 first-class rescue boats and 76 second-class lifeboats.[74][75][76]

Germany Edit

A cruiser of the DGzRS and a SeaKing helicopter of the German Navy

Search and Rescue in German waters is conducted by the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service with air support by the German Navy and the German Army Aviation. All incoming requests are coordinated by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Bremen. The DGzRS is a non-governmental organisation entirely supported by donations.[77]

Besides the offshore Search And Rescue services, the German Army Aviation provides 3 SAR Command Posts on a 24/7 basis with the Bell UH-1D Huey at Holzdorf Air Base and the Airbus H145 LUH SAR (Light Utility Helicopter Search and Rescue) at Nörvenich Air Base and 2 at Niederstetten Army Airfield. [78]

Further, the Technisches Hilfswerk is a key component of the German disaster relief framework. It is, among other things, regularly involved in urban search and rescue efforts abroad.[79]

Hong Kong Edit

Hong Kong GFS AS332 L2 Super Puma SAR helicopter
HK GFS EC155 helicopter
Royal Air Force Westland Wessex HC2 SAR helicopter off Hong Kong
Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force Aérospatiale SA 360 Dauphin SAR helicopter

SAR operations are conducted by the Government Flying Service (GFS) and before 1993 by the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force. The GFS conducts maritime SAR within the 400-nautical-mile (740 km) radius of the Hong Kong Flight Information Region (FIR).[80]

As of 2020, the GFS fleet consists of nine aircraft including:[80]

Other civilian search and rescue units in Hong Kong include:

Iceland Edit

Icelandic Coast Guard Eurocopter AS-365N Dauphin 2 helicopter

The Icelandic Coast Guard is responsible for coordinating all maritime and aviation search and rescue activities in the Icelandic Search and Rescue Region (SRR), that has the sise of 1.9 million square kilometres. The Icelandic Coast Guard operates JRCC ICELAND in combination with the Coast Guard's operation centre, the maritime traffic service and the coastal radio stations. If aircraft crash site is located on land the control of the rescue operations is diverted to the Icelandic Police, which is responsible for SAR operations on land. The Icelandic Coast Guard (JRCC ICELAND) is the Cospas-Sarsat SAR Point of Contact. ISAVIA, which operates the Air Traffic Control in Iceland, is responsible for the aviation alerting services. The Icelandic Coast Guard operates maritime patrol aircraft, SAR helicopters and patrol vessels.[82]

The Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (Slysavarnafélagið Landsbjörg) (ICESAR) is a volunteer organisation with about 100 rescue teams located all around the island. ICESAR is a great support to SAR operations both on land and sea. All the rescue teams contain groups of specially trained individuals.[83]

A specialised INSARAG External Classification certified rubble rescue squad operates under the Icelandic Association of Search and Rescue. It was the first rescue squad to arrive in Haiti following the earthquake of 2010.[84][failed verification]

Indonesia Edit

The National Search and Rescue Agency of Indonesia known in Indonesian as Badan Nasional Pencarian dan Pertolongan abbreviated "BASARNAS", is a government agency responsible for conducting search and rescue duties nationally in Indonesia. BASARNAS may also be assisted in conducting SAR in Indonesia by the TNI, Mobile Brigade Corps, and local Fire brigade units.[85]

Ireland Edit

Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky S-61N SAR helicopter
A search and rescue demonstration by an Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky S-61 helicopter and a RNLI lifeboat.

Maritime SAR services are provided by two civilian bodies - the Irish Coast Guard[86] and the RNLI. The Coast Guard has responsibility for the Irish Search and Rescue Region.[87] The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has 43 lifeboat stations including inland stations at Enniskillen and Lough Derg,[88] the coastguard inshore rescue boats,[89] and community rescue boats at fifteen stations: Ballinskelligs - Co. Kerry, Ballybunion - Co. Kerry, Ballyheigue - Co. Kerry, Banna - Co. Kerry, Bantry - Co. Cork, Bunmahon - Co. Waterford, Cahore - Co. Wexford, Carna - Co. Galway, Corrib/Mask Lakes - Co. Galway, Derrynane - Co. Kerry, Limerick City (River Shannon), Mallow Search and Rescue - Co. Cork, Schull - Co. Cork, Tramore - Co. Waterford, Waterford City River Rescue, Waterford Marine Search & Rescue.[90] There are some 25 other independent rescue services.[90]

Mountain Rescue in Ireland is provided by 12 voluntary teams based in different regions of the country.[91]

The IRCG operate a number of contracted Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters from bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo under the €500 million contract, from 2010, a previous fleet of Sikorsky S-61N helicopters were replaced with five newer Sikorsky S-92 helicopters.[92][93] One of the new S-92 helicopters is located at each of the four IRCG bases, with one spare replacement aircraft being rotated between bases.[94]

The Irish Coast Guard are launching a tender for a future SAR Aviation Contract,[95] which is one of several tenders for similar services.[96]

The Irish Air Corps provide top cover for search and rescue over land or sea[97] and is available for maritime and mountain rescue if needed. The Irish Naval Service frequently assists the other agencies in search and rescue. Its patrol ships at sea and the communications center at Haulbowline maintain a 24-hour watch on all distress frequencies.[98]

Israel Edit

Helicopter of Magen David Adom

SAR in Israel is the responsibility of the IDF Home Front Command Search and Rescue (SAR). The unit was established at its current strength in 1984, combining all the specialist units that were involved with SAR until that time.[99]

The SAR unit is a rapid mobilisation force and has an airborne transport and deployment capability for its personnel and equipment. The unit is composed of reserve personnel, with a regular cadre based at the Bahad 16 Unit training facility. With a focus on urban SAR, the unit operates specialised equipment, including a locally developed device for locating persons trapped under rubble by detecting seismic and acoustic emissions given off by the victims. The SAR unit also uses Search and rescue dogs specially trained to locate people buried under debris.

Israeli SAR resources

Italy Edit

Italian AgustaWestland AW139 for sea rescue.
Italian AS365 Dauphin rescue helicopter

Italian SAR operations are carried out by the Guardia Costiera,[100] backed up by naval aviation and the air force, including Aeronautica Militare Comando 15° Stormo (15th Wing),[101] the Italian Red Cross,[102] and other organisations.

Jordan Edit

Jordan's Civil Defense Urban Search and Rescue team (USAR) has achieved the UN classification as a heavy USAR team. The team's role mainly earthquake rescue.[103]

Kenya Edit

The Kenya Maritime Authority and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority are responsible for Aeronautical SAR within Kenya's waterways and aerospace respectively.[104][105]

Macau Edit

Macau's maritime SAR is conducted by two units:

The Macau Marine Department and responsible for maritime SAR within Macau's waterways. The Macau Search and Rescue Coordination Centre is under the Vessel Traffic Control Centre of Macao of the Maritime Administration of Macau.[106]

Malaysia Edit

MMEA's Eurocopter AS365 N3 Dauphin used for SAR and surveillance.

For land rescue, Malaysia has two primary SAR units: the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART), which reports to the National Security Council, and the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department's (FRDM) Special Tactical Operation and Rescue Team of Malaysia (STORM) unit. They are sometimes aided by the jungle experts, the aboriginal police unit named Senoi Praaq, Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) VAT 69 Commando, the Malaysian Armed Forces' special operations force, and the Malaysian Civil Defence Force.[107] Both SMART and STORM, as with other FRDM's special operations, often participate in international SAR missions.[108][109][110][111]

For maritime SAR, it is the responsibility of Malaysia Coast Guard and FRDM, along with support from the RMP's Marine Operations Force and the Royal Malaysian Air Force's PASKAU.[112][113]

Malta Edit

The AFM's search and rescue launches Melita I and Melita II have been used for search and rescue operations since 1999.

The responsibility for SAR at sea in the Malta Search and Rescue Region falls under the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM). It is carried out by maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and vessels under the co-ordination, command and control of the Rescue Co-ordination Centre.[114]

The AFM, in close collaboration with the US Coast Guard, also runs a Search and Rescue Training Centre for International Students[115] in Maritime SAR Mission Co-ordination and Planning.[116] To date more than 30 foreign students from 15 countries including Albania, Cameroon, Croatia, Equatorial Guinea and Kenya have attended these courses.[117][118]

Malta is also in talks with Libya about enhancing SAR cooperation between the two countries.[119][needs update]

Netherlands Edit

SAR responsibility in the Netherlands is held by the Netherlands Coastguard, carried out by vessels and aircraft from various organisations among which mostly the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution, the Dutch Lifeguard Association, the Ministry of Transport and Water Management and the Ministry of Defence (Netherlands).

New Zealand Edit

New Zealand's Search and Rescue Region extends from the South Pole to the southern border of the Honolulu region, including Norfolk, Tonga, Samoa, and Cook Islands.[120]

Smaller searches are controlled by the local police, who call on LandSAR for land-based operations, such as for lost hikers known as tramping in New Zealand, and the Royal New Zealand Coastguard for coastal maritime incidents. Larger maritime search and rescue events, as well as reports of overdue aircraft, fall under the control of the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ), based in Avalon, which coordinates response from local coastguard, helicopter operators, merchant marine, air force and naval resources.[120][121][122]

Urban Search and Rescue falls primarily within the domain of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand, particularly the three USAR Taskforce groups based in Palmerston North, Christchurch, and Auckland. These teams draw together numerous specialists and organisations to achieve an integrated multi-agency response.[123]

Among those organisations that act in a support capacity for FENZ are Response Teams (NZRTs). These are regional rescue groups of professional volunteers that train to a minimum industry standard of USAR Category 1R (USAR Responder), which is also standard for FENZ firefighters. Response Teams are registered with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM), and assist their local MCDEM Groups and communities in emergencies to supplement full-time emergency services. Their additional capabilities, which vary among different teams, include: high angle rope rescue, storm response, swift water response, medics, welfare, and rural fire support.[124] Many Response Teams were deployed to assist in the rescue and recovery effort of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Other resources:

  • Westpac Rescue Helicopter (New Zealand) - charitable organisation
  • New Zealand Land SAR Search Dogs - the official NZ search dogs group providing land search & rescue services under NZ Land SAR, wilderness and avalanche rescue dogs.[125]

Norway Edit

The veteran Norwegian rescue ship Biskop Hvoslef

The search and rescue helicopters are operated by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF), who fly 12 Westland Sea Kings. The Norwegian Sea Kings are in the process of being replaced.[126] Between 2020 and 2023 the Sea King fleet will have been phased out by 16 AgustaWestland AW101, named Sar Queen for the purpose.[127] There have been issues with the phasing in of Sar Queen, due to landing sites across the country not being sized for the increased downwash.[128]

Philippines Edit

The agencies responsible for Search and Rescue activities in the Philippines are:

Portugal Edit

Portuguese Search and Rescue Area

Three different agencies are responsible for providing search and rescue in Portugal. The Portuguese Navy is responsible for all sea rescues, the Portuguese Air Force[129] for all the rescues originating within the airspace, including aircraft crashes and the Autoridade Nacional de Protecção Civil (ANPC) for all inland rescues. All of the above coordinate closely with each other providing a comprehensive search and rescue service.

The Portuguese area of responsibility comprises the Lisbon and Santa Maria Flight Information Regions (FIR).[130]

Poland Edit

A Polish Navy W-3 Sokół SAR helicopter hoists a crew member

In Poland most search and rescue operations are undertaken by the airborne units of the Polish Armed Forces. The Navy currently has the largest SAR fleet of helicopters and also operates a number of small vessels for the purpose of rescuing crewmen of stricken ships. There is also, however a semi-governmental organisation known as the 'Morska Służba Poszukiwania i Ratownictwa' (Maritime Search and Rescue Service)[131] which provides the vast majority of seaborne services to vessels in distress; the service is currently (as of 2010) in the process of overhauling and replacing a large portion of its fleet of lifeboats.

Other civilian search and rescue units in Poland include:

South Africa Edit

Search and Rescue services are offered by various government departments, non governmental organisations, commercial/private organisations and voluntary organisations in South Africa. There is no single organisation responsible for urban, wilderness, swift water, aviation or maritime/sea rescue.

Aviation and maritime incidents are the responsibility of the South African Search and Rescue Organisation (SASAR). SASAR is a voluntary organisation that functions under the auspices of the Department of Transport. Its main role is to search for, assist and carry out rescue operations for the survivors of aircraft or vessel accidents. Depending on the nature of the accident, the RCCs (Aeronatautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) or Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC)) coordinate the search and rescue missions. These operations are carried out by other government departments, non governmental organisations, commercial/private organisations and voluntary organisations.[132][133]

Local resources:

Spain Edit

CASA CN-235 Maritime Patrol aircraft of the Sociedad de Salvamento y Seguridad Maritima.
Sociedad de Salvamento y Seguridad Maritima AgustaWestland AW139 SAR helicopter

Search and rescue duties in Spain are the responsibility of the national government, in conjunction with regional and municipal governments. The Sociedad de Salvamento y Seguridad Marítima is the main organisation, and has overall responsibility for the maritime search and rescue, that also coordinates the SAR efforts with other agencies:[139]

Sweden Edit

Swedish rescue vessel Drottning Silvia (Queen Silvia) in front of the Royal Castle in Stockholm, Sweden

The Swedish Maritime Administration is responsible for maritime SAR in Swedish waters.[140] The Swedish Sea Rescue Society is an organisation aiming at saving lives and recovering property at sea, much the same as the Norwegian Norsk Selskab til Skibbrudnes Redning. The society operates 68 search and rescue stations and some 185 ships crewed by 2100 volunteers, of those more than 300 are on call at any time, and can respond within 15 minutes. In 2011, the volunteers turned out to an emergency 3274 times. The Swedish Sea Rescue Society is involved 70% of the number SAR missions in Swedish waters.[141]

Switzerland Edit

REGA Agusta A109 K2.

REGA (Schweizerische REttungsflugwacht / Garde Aérienne / Guardia Aerea) is the air rescue service which provides emergency medical assistance in Switzerland, notably in mountains but also in cases of life-threatening emergencies elsewhere. They will also return a citizen to Switzerland from a foreign country if they are in need of urgent medical care. Rega was established on 27 April 1952 by Dr. Rudolf Bucher, who thought that the Swiss rescue organisation needed a specialised air sub-section.[142]

Taiwan Edit

National Airborne Service Corps (NASC; Chinese: 內政部空中勤務總隊; pinyin: Nèizhèngbù Kōngzhōng Qínwù Zǒngduì) is the agency of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of China responsible for executing and providing support for search and rescue, disaster relief, emergency medical service, transportation, monitoring, reconnaissance and patrol in Taiwan.[143]

Coast Guard Administration (CGA; Chinese: 行政院海岸巡防署; pinyin: Xíngzhèngyuàn Hǎi'àn Xúnfáng Shǔ) is charged with maintaining coastal waters and the pelagic zone patrols, smuggling and stowaway crackdowns, maritime rescues, natural resource conservation, and public services. The CGA is considered a civilian law enforcement agency under the administration of the Executive Yuan, though during emergencies it may be incorporated as part of the Republic of China Armed Forces.[144]

Turkey Edit

Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) teams in search and rescue mission 2011 Van earthquakes.

Search and Rescue operators in Turkey are primarily:

Civil governmental and non-governmental organisations


Ukraine Edit

In Ukraine search and rescue is conducted by the State Search and Rescue Aviation Service of the Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine Ukraviaposhuk.[156]

United Kingdom Edit

Royal Air Force Westland Sea King
HM Coastguard Sikorsky S-92 SAR helicopter

In the UK, land-based searches for a missing person are usually coordinated by the local police. There is a network of local volunteer agencies that can be called out to assist these searches, which are part of the Association of Lowland Search And Rescue. Other voluntary agencies exist to provide specialist search and rescue services, such as the Cave Rescue Organisation and Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland. These organisations are usually called out indirectly by the police. For example, the British Cave Rescue Council advises that if someone goes missing in a cave, callers should contact the local police who will then summon cave rescue.[157] Urban search and rescue units are run by the fire services.

His Majesty's Coastguard are in charge of maritime search and rescue missions. The Coastguard is one of the four emergency services that can be contacted on 999. Their role is to initiate and coordinate the searches. Lifeboats are provided by volunteer agencies, most often by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Aircraft for an air-sea rescue were originally provided by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Under the programme UK-SAR, they are now operated under contract by Bristow Helicopters.[158] The Maritime & Coastguard Agency are launching a tender for their second generation UK search and rescue aviation programme (UKSAR2G),[159] which is one of several tenders for similar services.[96]

Examples of local resources include:

United States Edit

US Coast Guard Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin SAR helicopter
US Coast Guard Sikorsky HH-60 Jayhawk SAR helicopter

In the United States there are many organisations with SAR responsibilities at the national, state and local level. Most day-to-day SAR missions in the US are run by the County Sheriffs,[162] except in states like Alaska, where the State Highway Patrol oversees SAR, or in other areas where local fire, EMS, or a non-profit department may be the providers of SAR services. They in turn, can request help from state and national resources, if they think they need them. A typical Sheriff's Office has a volunteer SAR team that matches the terrain and population of that county. SAR members are typically trained in the Incident Command System (ICS),[163] first aid, and the outdoor skills needed in that terrain and climate. Most of this article is about the federal response to assist large complicated SAR missions.

In January 2008, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the National Response Framework which serves as the guiding document for a federal response during a national emergency. Search and Rescue is divided into four primary elements, while assigning a federal agency with the lead role for each of the four elements.[164]

SAR standards adopted by agencies having jurisdiction are developed primarily by non-governmental organisations, including ASTM International and National Fire Protection Association. These standards are adopted also by training and certification organisations such as Mountain Rescue Association and National Association for Search and Rescue to develop training that will meet or exceed those standards.[165] Within ASTM International, standards specific to SAR are developed by Technical Committee F32 on Search and Rescue. Formed in 1988, the committee had 85 current members and jurisdiction of 38 approved standards.[165]

Vietnam Edit

Under command of the Central Government:

  • National Committee of Search and Rescue is responsible for searching, rescuing and disaster relief.[166]
  • Central Committee of Prevention of Natural Disasters is responsible for analyzing information and monitoring disaster relief processes.[167]

Under command of local People's Committee:

  • Each province and municipality has a Provincial or City Committee of Prevention of Natural Disaster

Under command of the Ministry of Defense:

Under command of the Ministry of Public Security:

  • Vietnam Fire and Rescue Police Department is responsible for fire fighting activities.[169]

Under command of the Ministry of Transport:

  • Department of Maritime Administration: Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center (VMRCC) is responsible for maritime rescue activities.[170] VMRCC is divided into 4 Rescue Regions:
    • Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center of Region I: operate in Tonkin Gulf
    • Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center of Region II: operate in North Central sea
    • Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center of Region III: operate in Gulf of Thailand and Southern sea
    • Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center of Region IV: operate in South Central sea
  • Corporation of Air Traffic Management: Vietnam Aviation Search and Rescue Coordination Center (VARCC) is responsible for air rescue activities.[171] VARCC is divided into 3 Rescue Regions:
    • Vietnam Aviation Search and Rescue Coordination Center of Northern Vietnam: operate in Northern region
    • Vietnam Aviation Search and Rescue Coordination Center of Central Vietnam: operate in Central region
    • Vietnam Aviation Search and Rescue Coordination Center of Southern Vietnam: operate in Southern region
    • Vietnam Railway Rescue and Natural Calamity Response Center of Northern Vietnam: operates in Northern region
    • Vietnam Railway Rescue and Natural Calamity Response Center of Central Vietnam: operates in Central region
    • Vietnam Railway Rescue and Natural Calamity Response Center of Southern Vietnam: operates in Southern region

Aircraft Edit

Spanish Air Force Aérospatiale SA330J Puma of the 801 Squadron of the Air Force. Note the lettering reading "SAR".

Rotary and fixed wing aircraft are used for air and sea rescue. A list of common aircraft used:

See also Edit

References Edit

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External links Edit