SAR System

The SAR system, like any other system, has individual components that must work together to provide the overall service. Development of a SAR system typically involves establishment of one or more SRRs, along with capabilities to receive alerts and to coordinate and provide SAR services within each SRR. Each SRR is associated with an RCC. For aeronautical purposes, SRRs often coincide with flight information regions (FIRs). The goal of ICAO and IMO conventions relating to SAR is to establish a global SAR system. Operationally, the global SAR system relies upon States to establish their national SAR systems and then integrate provision of their services with other States for world-wide coverage.


Every SRR has unique transportation, climate, topography and physical characteristics. These factors create a different set of problems for SAR operations in each SRR. Such factors influence the choice and composition of the services, facilities, equipment and staffing required by each SAR service. The primary system components are:

  • communications throughout the SRR and with external SAR services;
  • an RCC for the coordination of SAR services;
  • if necessary, one or more RSCs to support an RCC within its SRR;
  • SAR facilities, including SRUs with specialized equipment and trained personnel, as well as other resources which can be used to conduct SAR operations;
  • medical advice and medical assistance and evacuation services;
  • on-scene coordinator (OSC) assigned, as necessary, for coordinating the on-scene activities of all participating facilities; and
  • Support facilities that provide services in support of SAR operations.


Establishment of the global aeronautical and maritime SAR systems under their respective international conventions provides the framework for a national system to handle SAR matters on land within the State and its SRR. Local government authorities and police would typically have the responsibility for land SAR and may not involve an RCC. However, the national SAR system should have arrangements in place for coordination with local authorities for land SAR response, as appropriate. In some cases, the national SAR system may be designated as being responsible for conducting certain land SAR operations; or, it may have a supporting role because the RCC received the initial alert or the local authorities requested the support of nearby national SAR facilities.


Read More: IAMSAR – I

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