Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre Victoria

Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre Victoria

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria (JRCC Victoria) is one of three Canadian JRCCs, jointly manned by Canadian Forces and Canadian Coast Guard personnel.

JRCC Victoria is responsible for coordinating the Search and Rescue (SAR) response to air and marine incidents within the Victoria Search and Rescue Region (SRR). This region includes the land mass of British Columbia, the Yukon Territories and the adjacent tidal waters of British Columbia. As a secondary role, JRCC Victoria coordinates requests by other levels of government for federal SAR resources. These secondary request are commonly made for humanitarian reasons that fall within provincial or municipal jurisdiction (eg. searching for missing hunters, hoisting injured hikers and medical evacuation when civilian agencies are unable due to weather or location).


"The national search and rescue (SAR) objective is to prevent loss of life and injury through search and rescue alerting, responding and aiding activities using public and private resources." [National SAR Manual Para 1.4]

JRCC Victoria coordinates and controls Search and Rescue Units (SRUs) within its area of responsibility. The centre serves as a communications hub and primary point of contact for the coordination and direction of rescue units and on-scene commanders in order to meet the national objective in the safest and most effective manner possible.

Command and control

The Minister of National Defence (Canada) has overall responsibility for the operation of the coordinated federal SAR system with primary (full-time) SAR resources provided by the Canadian Forces and Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Within the Canadian Forces, SAR policy and procedures are a Canada Command responsibility with each JRCC being operationally responsible to the senior military officer in their region. JRCC Victoria is responsible to the Commander of Joint Task Force (Pacific).


JRCC Victoria is staffed by the Air Force and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) 24 hours a day, year-round. Duty staff are comprised of:
* two Maritime SAR Co-ordinators commonly referred to as the "marine controllers" (experience CCG officers),
* one Aeronautical SAR Co-ordinator commonly referred to as the "air controller" (experienced Air Force pilot or navigator); and
* one Assistant Aeronautical SAR Co-ordinator or "air assistant" (experienced air traffic controller or air weapon controller).

Air and Marine controllers are collectively called "mission coordinators". All JRCC personnel function together as a team to ensure that response to distress incidents is co-ordinated effectively.


JRCC Victoria is located on Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt (CFB Esquimalt), near Victoria, British Columbia. JRCC Victoria ties in to the Canadian Mission Control Center (CMCC), NAV CANADA, and the Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services alerting system.

Geographic Area

The Victoria Search and Rescue Region (SRR) is made up of British Columbia, Yukon, and a portion of the north-eastern Pacific ocean. It is approximately convert|490000|sqmi|km2 of mainly mountainous terrain, with another convert|275000|sqmi|km2 of ocean and convert|20000|mi|km of coastline. The oceanic area extends westward convert|900|mi|km in the south and convert|350|mi|km in the north.



The primary SAR air resource in the Victoria region is 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron located at 19 Wing Comox on Vancouver Island. 442 Squadron is equipped with five Cormorant CH-149 helicopters and six de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo CC-115 fixed-wing aircraft. The Buffalo is the primary search platform and is low speed maneuverability and STOL capability makes it ideally suited for mountainous terrain. The Cormorant is the main rescue aircraft, and because of its versatility, it can operate effectively in mountain and marine environments. Other aircraft are available from federal and provincial departments if required. JRCC Victoria will also charter local helicopters to perform certain SAR functions as required.

The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) is a national organization of volunteers who actively participate in aircraft searches. They have 980 members and operate 100 private aircraft in many areas of the Victoria SRR. CASARA may be tasked at any time of day or night and can conduct both electronic direction-finding missions and visual searches. They are a primary source of trained spotters for military and civilian aircraft participating in major searches, and they often provide or arrange facilities for temporary Search Headquarters.


The Coast Guard provides the primary marine resources to the federal SAR system, with two vessels continually patrolling the North/South SAR areas, plus 11 rescue cutters and 2 hovercraft located at 12 fixed bases on 30 minute standby. During the summer season, the regular SAR fleet is supplemented by Zodiac-type inshore rescue boats at locations with high concentrations of pleasure craft. In addition to these full-time SAR resources, the Coast Guard and other federal departments operate a variety of other vessels which are multi-tasked but available for SAR if needed. Canadian Naval ships are considered as secondary SAR resources under the National SAR Plan and regularly respond.

The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CGA) is a national volunteer marine group with 1,100 members that operate 380 private rescue boats. They are well organized and train regularly; these community-based volunteers can often provide the fastest response. Vessels of opportunity are important in resolving many cases. International law requires that vessels assist each other during distress situations and many, if not most, marine cases are resolved by assistance from other vessels in the vicinity of the distress.

Adjacent RCCs

JRCC Victoria works closely with, and shares resources freely with three adjacent RCCs:
*Juneau, Alaska to the north,
*Seattle, Washington to the south, and
*Trenton, Ontario to the east.

The coastal JRCCs share common air and marine radio circuits and all JRCCs are linked by hot line telephones. Canadian JRCC's and are mutually connected through the Canadian SAR Mission Management System (SMMS) Computer Network. It is not unusual for American or Canadian rescue units to respond to distress calls in each other's area when they are the closest available unit. Joint operating agreements and special customs procedures promote maximum cooperation that provides an optimal response to any distress.


One of the most useful tools in the Canadian SAR system is the Search and Rescue Satellite or Cospas-Sarsat satellite surveillance system that was jointly founded in 1981 by Canada, USA, France and USSR. At present 18 countries participate. The Canadian system uses three earth stations - Edmonton, Churchill and Goose Bay, to monitor satellites in polar orbit. These satellites detect and locate air and marine emergency beacons, referred to as Electronic Location Transmitters (ELTs) and Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs), which transmit on 121.5, 243.0 and 406.0 MHz. The resultant distress signal is then routed to the appropriate JRCC for action.


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Worldwide EMERGENCY phone number for JRCC Victoria is 250-363-2333 (Country code 01).

The toll-free EMERGENCY phone number for JRCC Victoria is 1-800-567-5111 (only available in British Columbia and the Yukon). Some cellular providers allow contact JRCC Victoria toll-free by calling #SAR (pound key, 727). If in doubt dial 911 and ask for "Air-Sea Rescue".

Media are requested to call 250-363-2995 to speak with a public affairs officer.


External links

* [ Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre Victoria Website]

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