Tyler Brand began his career as a young bosun's mate on a 130' gaff-rigged schooner. After completing a degree in Neuroscience from the University of Victoria, he returned to the sea and worked with the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) for several years as a rescue specialist and training officer, performing various training-related roles. Today, he proudly holds the position of Superintendent of Search and Rescue (SAR) in the Western region of Canada.

Tyler's commitment to SAR is evident in his anticipation of the upcoming IMRF regional meeting and maritime workshop. The CCG will host this event, focused on Indigenous and Remote Community Maritime SAR, on June 10 and 11 in Victoria. Tyler's eagerness to participate and learn from this event clearly reflects his dedication to continuous learning and improvement in SAR operations.

At the IMRF regional meeting and maritime workshop, Tyler is particularly drawn to the presentations from the Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary units on the West Coast. He is also looking forward to the discussion on remote area SAR response. These topics, crucial in SAR operations, align with his areas of interest and underscore his focus on enhancing the effectiveness of SAR operations in critical areas.

Tyler said, “Responding to emergencies in remote areas, such as the Canadian Arctic, presents tough challenges in providing timely responses to save lives in danger. The Arctic can be a very hostile survival environment, and the great distances can make response operations very high-risk. 

“Its extreme climate is characterised by low temperatures, winter-time darkness, snow, ice and permafrost, and a sparse and limited infrastructure in much of the Arctic, increasing risks and impacts and hindering response activities. Actions for prevention, preparedness, and response must be carefully planned and adapted to the conditions and remoteness of the Arctic to maximise the use of available resources,” Tyler added.

The first day of the regional meeting will also include a demonstration of SAR activity. Tyler believes such exercises benefit both SAR organisations and the public by being informative and entertaining. The event will showcase the communication and cooperation protocols and procedures when First Nations Indigenous responders work with federal resources to conduct rescue operations and search for lost mariners.

In addition to the Indigenous SAR training programme, Tyler oversees various other programmes, such as the Coast Guard contingent of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria and support for volunteers such as the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) and Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary. He is also responsible for managing the CCG Rescue Specialist Programme, the Inshore Rescue Programme, and other SAR-related training and analytics initiatives.

One of Tyler's favourite aspects of his job is collaborating with individuals in small coastal communities in British Columbia to enhance their response capabilities in remote areas. These communities aim to be self-sufficient in their response capacity. Still, the CCG wants to ensure they feel backed up by the national SAR system and can communicate and coordinate with federal resources when incidents occur.

He added: “Collaboration benefits all parties involved. It helps address concerns, share best practices and resources, and facilitate communication. Many of the benefits of these collaborative efforts are intangible. For example, improved communication, understanding, and awareness of coastal issues, access to information and contacts, new opportunities and research, advising on policy and planning, and mobilising community involvement in decision-making.”

As with any job, Tyler faces his own set of challenges. One of the biggest obstacles he encounters is navigating through government processes and procedures to secure resources and training for SAR services at the Rescue Centre and the CCG fleet, as well as for volunteers.

“I know that other SAR organisations will agree that we can all do with more resources, but training is as important if not more, as we all know the most important person in a rescue attempt is the rescuer, and without the correct equipment and training, this becomes a significant challenge,” Tyler commented.  

Tyler is passionate about both real-life SAR operations and fictional SAR stories. He is an avid writer of SAR-based fiction, and his first book, published in 2016, was a sci-fi novel with some SAR action scenes. 

He said, “Although the book is entirely fictional, I drew on my real-life experiences to make it more realistic.”

The CCG is a prominent member of the global IMRF community, and Tyler values organisations that collaborate through the IMRF to improve their operational capabilities and services. 

“The IMRF offers support and resources to SAR providers worldwide; this includes guidance materials and training programmes to help share knowledge and expertise in dealing with maritime emergencies. Additionally, the IMRF also offers resources to train response groups in managing major marine disasters, which may involve cruise or passenger ships with thousands of passengers that require evacuation and care in case of a ship in distress,” he concluded.