Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR)
HUSAR teams locate trapped persons in collapsed structures and other entrapments using specially trained dogs and electronic search equipment. The teams breach, shore, lift and remove structural components, use heavy construction equipment to remove debris, and medically treat and transfer victims. Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) is a general term for a group of specialized rescue skills that are integrated into a team with resources that include search, medical and structural assessment capacity.
Public Safety Canada (PS) provides national leadership for USAR development to ensure that program development is coordinated and appropriately shared among the federal government, provinces and territories, major urban centres, and other national and international stakeholders. The USAR program is one aspect of the federal government’s commitment to enhance Canada's national emergency response capacity.
The main elements of a national USAR program are based on operational readiness and capacity to deploy at short notice in response to domestic disasters. PS has identified the five following priorities for the development of a national USAR program:
- Plans, policies and protocols to outline responsibilities of the federal government, and of USAR teams deployed in afflicted areas outside home jurisdictions;
- Standard equipment designed for Light, Medium and Heavy USAR operations;
- Training in technical skills and joint operations with other teams;
- National guidelines or standards, where required; and,
- Exercises to improve capability and develop interoperability.
Four Canadian cities (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Halifax) and the Province of Manitoba currently have, or are developing, interoperable Heavy USAR capacity. The cost of USAR development is shared with provinces and territories through the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP).
Links to Canada's HUSAR teams:
In addition to Heavy USAR development, PS also supports the development of a complementary range of equipment and other resources for Light and Medium USAR in smaller urban centres across the country. Forty-one jurisdictions in Canada have accessed available funds to develop Light and Medium USAR capabilities with 50% of funds coming from the JEPP.
In the development of the USAR program, PS works to ensure that teams, equipment and technology are interoperable at a national level. PS has published The Canadian Urban Search and Rescue Classification Guide, which defines the standard array of tools, equipment and supplies suitable for teams at Light, Medium and Heavy operational levels.