By Captain Camilo Olea
A group of 25 members of the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (3 CRPG) visited four government agencies in charge of responding to emergencies in Ontario.
The Canadian Ranger Patrols of 3 CRPG are located along the coast of Hudson Bay and James Bay, as well as the inland regions of Northern Ontario. There are numerous municipalities and First Nation communities in this large area that are affected by nature-triggered emergencies, infrastructure failure and domestic crisis. The Canadian Rangers are not first responders, but because of the remote locations they are based in, when an emergency happens, they can respond the fastest.
The lead agency in charge of responding to emergencies in Ontario is the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) which was one of the agencies 3 CRPG staff visited last.
“We’ve had water treatment plant failures, electricity outages, for long periods of time and just the support that the Rangers can provide their communities, and to the other communities across Northern Ontario is really invaluable,” said Chris Pittens, the Senior Manager of the PEOC. “To have 3CRPG here to learn a little bit more about what we do, to build that relationship between our two organizations, I think can only make that better.”
Not all emergencies in Ontario require military support, but when they do they are led by the Joint Task Force Central (JTFC), that is responsible for all the army’s domestic response activities in the province. 3 CRPG staff got to visit the installation of JTFC’s Regional Joint Operation Centre (RJOC) in the Denison Armoury in Toronto.
“Over the last several years, 3 CRPG has contributed intensely to domestic operations with JTFC,” said Lieutenant Navy Thomas Ionson who is the Domestic Operations Director of the RJOC. “Last fiscal year, 3 CRPG participated directly in all domestic operations in Ontario including, Op LASER, LENTUS and VECTOR.”
The third stop was Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton, which is Canada’s largest Air Force base and home to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Trenton. JRCC Trenton is responsible for coordinating the search-and-rescue (SAR) response to incidents in most of Canada, including the three territories. Due to the limited SAR capabilities of local police services in remote communities, JRCC Trenton gets involved in many of them. The Officer in Charge of the JRCC, Major Marc Crivicich, explained to 3 CRPG staff how they handle incoming distress beacon calls received to their Mission Control room.
The last agency visited by 3 CRPG was 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, also based at CFB Trenton. The squadron operates the Lockheed CC-130H Hercules transport aircraft and the Bell CH-146 Griffon helicopter. Pararescue specialists, known as Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs) are on constant standby to deploy within 30 minutes of notification.
“It was good to talk to the SAR Techs, understand their job, what they actually do and to know about their training.” Said Master Corporal Peter Bot, a Canadian Ranger Instructor at 3 CRPG. “It was a really interesting experience, seeing how much coordination goes into a GSAR.”
As members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the Canadian Rangers are meant to be the last resort when an emergency arises, but in Northern Ontario, they are usually the first ones to respond.
“Our Rangers respond to many requests for assistance from Northern communities. We conduct more than 30 ground search-and-rescues (GSAR) every year, as well as numerous evacuations due to flooding and forest fires,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur, the Commanding Officer of 3 CRPG. “It proves very helpful to have Rangers within the communities where the emergencies occur”.
Over the last several years, 3 CRPG has contributed intensely to domestic operations, and been awarded the Canadian Forces’ Unit Commendation twice in the past 4 years.
Today, Canadian Rangers conduct surveillance in Canada’s remote areas, sovereignty patrols, search-and-rescue, disaster relief, and training of other armed forces personnel with survival skills.