14 Wing sets up shop in Summerside for search and rescue training exercise

Kirk Starratt
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The 413 Squadron based at 14 Wing Greenwood has set up shop at the Summerside airport for search and rescue training exercises.

GREENWOOD - If you spot a Cormorant helicopter or Hercules aircraft or see members of the Royal Canadian Air Force parachuting to the ground in certain Maritime communities this week, it could be part of a 14 Wing Greenwood search and rescue exercise.

The Department of National Defence’s Joint Task Force Atlantic is advising residents of Summerside, Charlottetown, Miramichi, Halifax and Cape Breton of the exercise, taking place from March 29 to April 2.

14 Wing has set up temporary headquarters at Summerside airport with 83 personnel. There are two Cormorant helicopters and two Hercules aircraft involved.

413 Transport and Rescue Squadron commanding officer Lt.Col. James Marshall said the exercise takes personnel outside their “comfort zone.” The unit’s capability to operate from a remote location while conducting search operations will be tested. The purpose is to build and maintain search and rescue skills sets.

“Once a year the squadron will deploy to another location and do a major search and rescue exercise,” Marshall said. “What this exercise does is gives us a chance to learn to operate outside our base.”

He said that when there is a search and rescue operation far from Greenwood, crews have to deploy aircraft and personnel. The search could take an extended period of time and setting up temporary base closer to the search area improves efficiency, reducing transit time.

The exercise will involve simulated rescue scenarios including daytime boat operations and boat operations at night using flares. There will be live parachute drops inland.

Marshall said most of the training would take place in the vicinity of the Summerside airport, with equipment and parachute drops. Some of these activities will also take place in Miramichi. There will be daytime water training off Halifax Harbour and night water training off Sydney.

14 Wing plans to conduct these activities at a safe distance from the public. Notices have been issued to mariners and people involved with aviation. People are advised not to encroach on training areas to ensure their safety.

Marshall said the squadron gets called out to search and rescue operations quite frequently, especially during fishing seasons.

413 Squadron used to be based in Summerside before moving to Greenwood. Marshall said this is the 75th anniversary of its formation so it’s quite fitting that this year’s exercise is based in Summerside.

For more information and updates, follow Joint Task Force Atlantic on Twitter at @JTFAtlantic.


Organizations: Department of National Defence

Geographic location: Summerside, Miramichi, Charlottetown Cape Breton Greenwood Sydney

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