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SAR Response Under the Gun Again

SeaKingTacco

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Military defends actions in search for dead Labrador teen
Canadian Forces officials cite bad weather, presence of private helicopter
CBC News Posted: Feb 4, 2012 10:41 AM NT Last Updated: Feb 4, 2012 10:28 AM NT

Canadian military officials say poor weather prevented them from launching a search for a 14-year-old boy whose body would later be found off the coast of northern Labrador.

The body of Burton Winters was found Wednesday, a day after the Canadian Forces joined the search for the Makkovik teenager, who was reported missing on Sunday night.

Rear Admiral Dave Gardam said the weather was too poor on Monday morning, when a call for help was first received by the military, for any aircraft to be dispatched.

"Given the weather conditions, which were below limits for safe operations of an aircraft, our aircraft were not able to operate in that environment," Gardam told reporters in Halifax, as the Canadian Forces responded to questions about whether the military could have done more to have found the boy.


http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2012/02/04/nl-makkovik-dnd-forces-response.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2012/02/02/nl-makkovik-labrador-search-202.html

I would point out that, having served for many years as a crew commander, I am intimately familiar with the rules concerning the operation of CF aircraft in all kinds of weather.  I have also conducted SAR operations in all sorts of conditions.  While the mouth-breathers in the comments section of CBC's website are beyond convincing, I can assure everyone here that all CF aircrew are mission focused and if we can find anyway of legally and more importantly safely launching, we will.  Clearly, in this case, there was no way of doing that.

Ultimately, mother nature always gets the final vote and no amount of technology will ever change that.
 
A

aesop081

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After a brief hiatus, It's open season on the military again boys & girls. Start getting used to it, we're not going to do anything right for while..........

Hang in there, keep doing what you're doing to the high standards you always have.
 

ballz

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SeaKingTacco said:
I can assure everyone here that all CF aircrew are mission focused and if we can find anyway of legally and more importantly safely launching, we will.

My first thought when reading about the controversy was of Sgt. Janick Gilbert. He made it pretty clear to me that the SAR teams were willing to do whatever it takes... the CBC readers forgot about him pretty quick.

I also wonder about the circumstances surrounding a 14 yr old being so far from home, alone, and unprepared.... no one seems to think his parents are somewhat responsible? If this happened in other parts of the country, I wonder if the parents would be facing criminal negligence charges...
 

Steve1987

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SeaKingTacco said:
I would point out that, having served for many years as a crew commander, I am intimately familiar with the rules concerning the operation of CF aircraft in all kinds of weather.  I have also conducted SAR operations in all sorts of conditions.  While the mouth-breathers in the comments section of CBC's website are beyond convincing, I can assure everyone here that all CF aircrew are mission focused and if we can find anyway of legally and more importantly safely launching, we will.  Clearly, in this case, there was no way of doing that.

Anyway who suggests otherwise just clearly doesn't know what they are talking about.  I have confidence if the SAR crew could have done anything they would have, I'm sure the crews were itching to go.  If it's unsafe, there is no reason to cause MORE casualties in bad situation.

-Steve
 

ModlrMike

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More to do with Pat Harris than anything else, methinks.
 

Zoomie

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This topic is way too hot to address fully at the moment.  Needless to say,  MSM optics are at work here - big time.  Ignore the primary reason for this tragedy and blame the Government.

When your cottage burns down in the middle of no-where, do you really think blaming the city fire department is the right idea - or maybe you should think about what initially caused the blaze and what could have prevented it?
 

ballz

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Family rejects military’s explanation for delay in search for boy

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1126573--family-rejects-military-s-explanation-for-delay-in-search-for-boy

MAKKOVIK, N.L.—The family of a 14-year-old boy whose body was found off the coast of Labrador says poor decisions were made in the search for him and the response to requests for help has to be improved to prevent future tragedies.

In a statement, the family says it doesn’t understand why a private helicopter was able to fly last Monday and join the search for Burton Winters but the military says the weather prevented them from deploying search and rescue aircraft.

“The civilian helicopter which had first arrived was neither equipped nor capable for a search and rescue situation,” Rod and Natalie Jacque, the father and stepmother of the boy, say in the statement. “They had only offered to help because search and rescue had not yet arrived.”

A chronology released Friday by the Canadian Forces said the first request for search and rescue assistance came from Newfoundland and Labrador’s fire and emergency services last Monday at 9 a.m. The boy’s body was found on Wednesday on the frozen Labrador Sea, about 19 kilometres from his abandoned snowmobile and seven kilometres from shore.

Rear Admiral Dave Gardam, the commander of Joint Task Force Atlantic, has said poor visibility and a low ceiling prevented the military from dispatching a chopper from its base in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., sooner than it did.

The couple say search and rescue services need to be improved in the province by the Department of National Defence.

“(Burton’s) determination to get home outshined any efforts put forward by the DND. We cannot stand for this lack of service to continue in Newfoundland and Labrador,” the statement says.

“This is the time for someone to step up and take responsibility in poor decision making to ensure that this doesn’t happen to another innocent family.”

The boy’s father declined an interview request on Sunday.

“Our family is now, and forever will be, incomplete because of someone else’s failure to do their job. Our son, Burton, will never come home to us,” the family statement says.

The Defence Department didn’t provide an immediate response to the family’s statement.

Winters was reported missing on Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m., six hours after he left home in Makkovik for his grandmother’s house.

A Universal helicopter based in Happy Valley-Goose Bay arrived to help with the search for Winters the next day on Monday afternoon, about three hours after search and rescue was contacted.

On Tuesday at around 9:30 a.m., the RCMP changed the status of the search to a recovery effort based on a suspicion that the boy and the snowmobile fell through the ice, the military chronology says.

But around 3:30 p.m., the snowmobile was located and the military was called again for help about an hour later.At about 7:30 p.m., the military deployed a CH-146 Griffon helicopter from Happy Valley-Goose Bay and it arrived about an hour later.

Federal and provincial politicians in Newfoundland and Labrador have also raised questions about the military’s response to the search.

The chief of the defence staff has ordered an investigation into the military’s response.

Newfoundland MP Jack Harris said Friday the military’s explanation didn’t provide all the answers he is looking for and the timeline raises more questions than it answers.

Labrador’s Inuit government also issued a statement, saying Winters’s death was a tragedy that could have been prevented.

The emphasis is mine... my blood boiled when I read that from the family.

There's a lot of talk about how this could have been "prevented." They have a very different definition of "prevention" than me.
 

medicineman

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Fact of the matter is, when confronted by reality, the vast majority of people will blame everything or everyone but the one that stares back a them in the mirror every day...it's human nature.  Some people will fall in behind them on this of course, but I'm sure you'll find there are quite a few people asking or at least thinking the same questions we are in this matter.

MM
 

Jarnhamar

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SeaKingTacco said:
I would point out that, having served for many years as a crew commander, I am intimately familiar with the rules concerning the operation of CF aircraft in all kinds of weather.  I have also conducted SAR operations in all sorts of conditions.  While the mouth-breathers in the comments section of CBC's website are beyond convincing, I can assure everyone here that all CF aircrew are mission focused and if we can find anyway of legally and more importantly safely launching, we will. 

I'm sold.

I'm also sorry you and all our noble SARtechs and supporting staff are forced to hear these accusations.

I won't attack the family in response to their attack on the CF and I don't want to insult any parent who has lost a child.  I'll wait for all the details to come out but my first reaction to this statement

“This is the time for someone to step up and take responsibility in poor decision making to ensure that this doesn’t happen to another innocent family.”
involved me wondering the circumstances behind the 14 year old being out there in the first place.

I'm reminded sadly of 12 year old kids (or younger) getting killed operating ATVs and Skidoos with warnings all over them not to be operated by anyone under 16.
 

OldSolduer

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ah the mainstream media - undermining the CF since PET took power!


What a bunch of selve serving ....so and so's
 

TN2IC

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Grimaldus said:
involved me wondering the circumstances behind the 14 year old being out there in the first place.

Natural Selection. Harsh truth.

Regards,
TN
 

OldSolduer

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I think part of the problem is that we, as an institution, do a very poor job when it comes to explaining our job(s).

We tend to be reactive and don't come off all that well on camera. We can explain the weather etc til the cows come home, but who's going to listen?

 

Zoomie

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Jim Seggie said:
I think part of the problem is that we, as an institution, do a very poor job when it comes to explaining our job(s).
We also tend to have an irrational fear/trepidation at being forthwith with information.  Why can't we just be open, clear and <in some cases> harsh, when it comes to dealing with the public?  We all know the answer to that...
 

SeaKingTacco

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I specifically recall 444 Sqn from Goose Bay conducting a SAR launch into questionable conditions about 10 years ago that resulted in the total loss of the aircraft and nearly killed the crew.

When I was training to become a Maritime Helicopter Crew Commander, a very wise old Major told me something-

"By all means, do everything that you can to launch.  But just remember, you are not contributing much to the search effort if you, too, end up sitting in a life raft at the datum."

In other words, a SAR launch does not suddenly make you magic and suspend National Defence Flying Orders, the laws of aerodynamics or make you immune to weather.

In my own experience, I have refused a medevac launch when holding SAR standby (the Cormorants were broken).  In one case, I knew it involved a pregnant woman in distress that needed to get to a better hospital.  We didn't go because I could not figure out a way of: a) not dying on the way to her location b) not killing her on the way to the hospital.  And believe me, I agonized over that one.

The worst thing that could happen from all of this is that SAR crews find themselves under perceived pressure to launch, no matter what.  All that will result in is dead crews, wrecked airplanes and nobody getting rescued.
 

Strike

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In other words, a SAR launch does not suddenly make you magic and suspend National Defence Flying Orders, the laws of aerodynamics or make you immune to weather.

I'm going to remember that one.  Now, if we could get a spokesperson to say that...
 

medicineman

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Strike said:
I'm going to remember that one.  Now, if we could get a spokesperson to say that...

Sometimes we as a society have to be frank and blunt...and those who are members of the Armed Forces have to sometimes be blunt with their employers - the Canadian Government and the taxpayers - with what capabilities are real and what are imaginary.  We're so conditioned to things being sugar coated these days that nobody wants to say what needs to be said (and are constrained in saying it).

Kind of wondering too if there are some ghosts of SAR Box Top 22 at play here, since that rescue happened in some pretty hideous conditions.

MM
 

Scott

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SeaKingTacco said:
"By all means, do everything that you can to launch.  But just remember, you are not contributing much to the search effort if you, too, end up sitting in a life raft at the datum."

Ding, ding, ding.

Also, putting yourself at risk for saveable lives is one thing, putting yourself at risk for unsaveable lives is quite another. Perhaps unrelated but it's one of those things I have always had pounded in to me. That and...

 

ballz

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Rear Admiral Gardam's decision makes sense and I'm sure he didn't make it lightly.

That said, now I am left wondering why it was first said to be because the weather was not permissive...
 

Eye In The Sky

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Good grief.  I did it again.  I let myself read the comments section.  :facepalm:

People have a right to be upset, but start with asking yourself why a minor was out on his own in the first place.

Its an aircraft people, if you discover something is wrong in pre-flight and its on the "no go" side of the house, you can't ignore it and fly.

This is not a new concept.  If your car has a flat when you go to drive to work, would you say "screw it" and go down the highway anyways??
 

Retired AF Guy

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Just curious; In a scenario like this how many crew members/SAR Techs would there be the Cormorant?
 
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