Search and Rescue Volunteers

Volunteers amplify the capacity of, and provide surge capacity to, search and rescue (SAR) authorities in Canada. In the country’s difficult and austere environments, their contributions are invaluable.


Canada’s size, terrain and weather mean that partnerships are critical in SAR operations and in achieving the ultimate goal of saving lives.

There are about 18,000 specially trained air, ground and maritime SAR volunteers across Canada. This strength is in addition to the resources and expertise of partners at all levels of government, Indigenous communities, and the private sector.

Volunteer sector partners help authorities respond to incidents and deliver prevention information to the Canadian public.

Volunteers in aeronautical, maritime and ground search and rescue

There are three domains of SAR and the organizations charged with each domain are supported by volunteers.

The Royal Canadian Air Force responds to incidents involving an aircraft. The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) assists the Royal Canadian Air Force for aeronautical SAR.
The Canadian Coast Guard responds to incident on federal waterways involving a vessel or person(s) from a vessel and have the support of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA)
Police forces of jurisdiction respond to incidents involving persons lost, missing, or in distress on land and most inland waters and the Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada (SARVAC) provides assistance for this ground-based SAR.

Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada Contribution Program

With 9,000 members in 300 teams across Canada, the Search and Rescue Volunteers Association of Canada (SARVAC) is a key partner in both response and prevention.

The SARVAC Contribution Program administered by Public Safety provides sustainability funding directly to SARVAC to improve volunteer ground SAR capabilities in Canada.

Similar contribution programs exist for CASARA and for the CCGA through the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Coast Guard respectively.

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