Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR)

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Arctic Response provides Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) training for Fundamentals, Team Leaders and Search Managers, all of which meet and exceed the national training guidelines published by the National SAR Secretariat (NSS). All Arctic Response rescue programs specialize in sub and high arctic operations.

Arctic Response also develops client specific courses such as the GSAR Liaison Officer program which we have delivered to the Arctic Operations Advisor Course of the Canadian Armed Forces for the past six years.  We also deliver advanced training for GSAR teams such:

  • Technical rescue (rope, swiftwater, ice)
  • Wilderness First Aid (24, 40 and 80 hour programs)
  • Man and snowmobile tracking
  • Helicopter operations and safety
  • Off-road vehicle operations (4 WD, snowmobile, ATV).

GSAR teams consist of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and with varying availability.  Therefore, Arctic Response works with training coordinators to schedule courses given volunteer availability and local logistics.

Course Content

GSAR Fundamentals courses are a minimum in duration of 16 hours of classroom based and 36 hours of “on the land” practical based training, with at least one overnight.

The complete list of training points for this program are extensive; however, the general learning outcomes are:

  • Knowledge of the national SAR plan and associated mandated and volunteer agencies
  • Legal and other responsibilities associated with GSAR
  • Rescuer safety
  • Navigation and communications
  • Search tactics and strategies

GSAR Team Leader courses are a minimum of 8 hours of theory training and 36 hours of land based training, that must include at least one overnight. Team Leaders are responsible for leading less experienced team members in carrying out a search plan safely and effectively.  A failure at this level of leadership may well result in prolonged search times and injuries or death to rescuers and victims.  Therefore, Team Leader courses must be realistic and practical; genuine leadership abilities cannot be learned by PowerPoint.

GSAR Search Manager courses average 40 hours of classroom based training in duration. GSAR Search Manager training prepares candidates to carry out the primary search management roles of a GSAR overhead team (headquarters). The management structure is based on the internationally recognized Incident Command System (ICS), which provides an effective, organized method of multi-agency operations.  To improve local area capabilities, Search Manager courses should train candidates from all agencies that may work together during actual searches, such as RCMP and volunteer GSAR teams, rather than training in organizational “stovepipes”.

Learning outcomes of this training include:

    • Roles and responsibilities of GSAR overhead team members
    • The Incident Command System (ICS)
    • GSAR planning, operations, logistics and administrative procedures
    • Dealing with media and other outside factors during search operations
    • Multi-agency search management
    • Managing sustained operations

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