CSA Group and Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada Release Ground Search and Rescue Competency Standard

Tool Will Help Train Volunteers and Provide Guidance on Search and Rescue Operations in Canada

CSA Group, a leading standards development organization and a global provider of testing and certification, and Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada (SARVAC) have released Canada’s first standard on ground search and rescue operations. This new standard will act as a Canada-wide benchmark to help develop training materials and program delivery models for search and rescue operations, focusing on three core roles that are vital to ground search and rescue operations: Searcher, Team Leader, and Search and Rescue Manager.  It will provide Canadians with the confidence that GSAR teams across the country will have a consistent set of skills to apply when someone is lost or missing.

The standard covers a range of competencies for all three roles including an understanding of first aid and survival skills, navigation, transportation and equipment safety and communications. It offers guidance for search and rescue operations in all kinds of scenarios and takes into account the different skills required to conduct searches across Canada where the terrain varies coast to coast.

The voluntary standard was initiated by SARVAC, with the support of the Government of Canada’s National Search and Rescue Secretariat. The members of the GSAR community in Canada identified the need for a standard to establish a Canada-wide benchmark that could be used to help develop training materials and program delivery models for search and rescue operations.

Those trained and certified to the standard will use the same program which will allow movement of GSAR volunteers throughout Canada helping to make more volunteers available in a crisis.

“The search and rescue standard builds on CSA Group’s long history of developing standards for public safety, emergency management and occupational health and safety,” said Gianluca Arcari, Executive Director, Standards and Vice President, CSA Group. “We are pleased to work with groups like SARVAC, whose talented and dedicated members work every day to make the world a safer place. We hope this new standard will form the basis for training that will allow search and rescue volunteers to participate in operations across Canada.”

Approximately 10,0001 Search and Rescue (SAR) operations are undertaken in Canada each year for people who are lost, overdue or missing. These searches fall under the responsibility of provincial and territorial governments and are often delegated to the police service of the jurisdiction. Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) professionals rely on responder volunteers to provide the bulk of human resources in these operations; more than 300 specifically trained volunteer GSAR teams that assist the police service by providing the personnel to help with a ground search, as well as specialized expertise, equipment, and local knowledge. Until now, there hasn’t been a competency standard for the thousands of people across Canada involved in ground search and rescue operations.

CSA Z1620, Core Competency Standards for Ground Search and Rescue Operations: Searcher, Team Leader and SAR Manager was developed to provide a benchmark for the associations and jurisdictions across Canada.

“This standard was created through the vision and drive of many organizations and agencies across Canada, and we believe it is just the starting point for SAR practitioners in Canada,” said Scott Wright, President, SARVAC. “SARVAC will work to embed these standards in our policies and training and use these core competencies to improve and evolve by developing training programs and accompanying accreditation. I’d like to thank CSA Group, National Search and Rescue Secretariat and the Ground Search and Rescue Council of Canada for providing the leadership, direction and support that helped make this standard possible.”

Competency standards are an excellent means to encourage labour mobility, promote public safety and define professional standards. This comprehensive standard was developed through a collaborative approach with representatives from policing associations, training institutes and search and rescue associations across Canada. This new standard builds a foundation for future collaboration on efforts such as training curriculum standards and educational products.


About CSA Group

CSA Group is an independent, not-for-profit member-based association dedicated to advancing safety, sustainability and social good. We are an internationally-accredited standards development and testing & certification organization. We also provide consumer product evaluation and education & training services. Our broad range of knowledge and expertise includes: industrial equipment, plumbing & construction, electro-medical & healthcare, appliances & gas, alternative energy, lighting and sustainability. The CSA mark appears on billions of products around the world.


Allison Hawkins
Manager, Corporate Affairs
CSA Group
[email protected]


June 23, 2015