Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Enhancing Community-Based Search & Rescue in the Canadian Arctic Through Risk Analysis

Peter Kikkert1, John Quigley2, Ian Belton2, Robert Brown3, Kerri-Ann Ennis3, Floris Goerlandt4, Susan Howick2, P. Whitney Lackenbauer5, Lawrance Mak6, Calvin Pedersen7, Ronald Pelot4, Desai Shan3, Lesley Walls2,a and George Wright2

1St. Francis Xavier University, Canada /EADDRESS/
2University of Strathclyde, Scotland.

3Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada /EADDRESS/
4Dalhousie University, Canada /EADDRESS/
5Trent University, Canada /EADDRESS/
6National Research Council Canada /EADDRESS/
7Kugluktuk / Kitikmeot Search and Rescue /EADDRESS/


The Canadian territory of Nunavut's size, scarcity of government resources, and harsh environmental conditions, coupled with the depth of traditional skills and knowledge held within local communities, mean that volunteer community responders form a vital part of the region's search and rescue (SAR) capacity (Kikkert & Lackenbauer, 2021). Climate change has created many challenges for SAR, including unpredictable and dangerous ice conditions, later freeze up and earlier thaw times, and increased marine traffic within the Northwest Passage (Ford & Clark, 2019). These changes not only affect activities on land, ice, and sea, increasing the risk of SAR incidents, but also impede operations. Nunavut SAR is a complex socio-technical system involving a range of interdependent factors that affect outcomes. Climate change impacts potentially exacerbate many factors, including the erosion of traditional knowledge, volunteer burnout, training gaps, and technological limitations. The NSAR project is a collaborative partnership which aims to strengthen SAR prevention, preparedness, and response in the territory, leading to enhanced community resilience and support for traditional Inuit ways of life. Three roundtables held across Nunavut, allowed SAR responders to highlight challenges, share experiences and best practice. Using data from the roundtables, the project is creating a systems-based risk methodology informed by contemporary thinking (e.g., Aven, 2021) to understand and analyze potential uncertain events and their systemic impacts to inform strategic planning, asset deployment, and capital investment. A scenario-based approach is adopted to elucidate unknown futures and deep uncertainties (e.g., Bourgeois et al., 2017).

Keywords: Arctic search and rescue, Risk analysis, Community resilience.

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