Nanaimo Air Search and Rescue to Improve Tracking with Improved GPS Units – Nanaimo News Bulletin


The non-profit organization that provides aerial search and rescue services in Nanaimo and the region will use the recently awarded funds to improve its tracking capabilities.

Mid Island Air Search and Rescue, part of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association and run by Emergency Management BC, will spend nearly $4,300 in community grant funding from the Regional District of Nanaimo for GPS units for crews land and air, said Anita Vallee, search-and-rescue president of the society. The group is made up of communications specialists, navigators and pilots who are called out for danger and distress calls primarily on the island.

The new gear will be an upgrade, Vallée said.

“Just with the new technology on them, they’ve got the touchscreens, which the old ones don’t have, and it’s a bigger form factor and it’s also lighter weight, a bit more robust, so all of that is very helpful,” she said.

The search and rescue group springs into action after an emergency locator transmitter, which could be attached to an aircraft, is triggered. A ground search party is notified and the plane is dispatched.

“On the plane, we usually have four people: a pilot, a navigator and what we call two spotters,” Vallée said. “We’ll fly over the area and when we pick up the transmission, we’ll try to get a latitude and longitude on it, so we can mark it on the map, so we know more or less where it is… we’ I’ will also use a GPS to search for different things and mark locations on different things.”

The non-profit organization also helps other search and rescue groups locate missing people at sea or in the hinterland.

“It could be a missing person and we maybe see his red jacket and we’re trying to get the exact location. We’re not going down and landing,” Vallée said. “We’re sending that back to our search coordinator, who coordinates with the rest of the EMBC, there may be ground crews or maritime searches and they are the ones who actually come in because we stay in the air.”

Vallée said Mid Island Air Search and Rescue’s coverage area includes the Cowichan Valley, which it shares with Victoria, the Comox Valley and Tofino, although it is called in to support other areas.

To learn more about Mid Island Air Search and Rescue, visit

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Regional District of NanaimoSearch and Rescue


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