If community-based SAR groups are the foundation of Canada’s Arctic search and rescue system, SAR coordinators and Coast Guard Auxiliary unit leaders are its cornerstone. They play an essential role in preparing their teams and executing community searches. These leaders often:

  • facilitate training opportunities for their teams
  • sustain relationships with the Hunters and Trappers Organization, the RCMP, and other local groups
  • ensure that SAR volunteers are on standby at all times, and ready to participate in a search if required
  • contact all individuals who might be involved with a search at the community level
  • facilitate the gathering of information about missing persons, and working with their family members
  • organize SAR teams and get them ready to deploy
  • organize the purchase of supplies and fuel for the SAR teams
  • ensure that proper procedures are followed
  • liaise with the Coast Guard/JRCC or with Nunavut Emergency Management
  • in the aftermath of a search, they must complete expense forms, damage reports, and other required paperwork

Effective leadership is a core ingredient of an effective SAR system. Without these volunteer leaders, SAR would not function in the Kitikmeot. They do so much that several Kitikmeot Roundtable on SAR participants concluded that each community should have a full or part-time paid SAR coordinator position.

“SAR cases are increasing. SAR is an essential service at the community-level; we need it for health and community safety. There are multiple community groups involved in SAR – it is tough to coordinate between all of them. We should have a paid coordinator in each community who is the full-time point of contact for all things SAR. This person could organize the searchers, train community members, ensure there is cooperation and coordination between the different groups, check equipment, and ensure that a community is always ready for SAR. This person could keep track of who has what training in the community. They could arrange the fundraising. This could be a full- or part-time job, but it should be paid work. I think it would be a great investment in our communities.”

Participant, Kitikmeot Roundtable on SAR 2020
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