The Ground Search and Rescue – National Accreditation and Certification Pilot (NACP)

What is the GSAR-NACP?

Certification as part of this program is National Recognition that a Searcher, Team Leader and/or SAR Manager have met and are fully trained to the CSA Z1620-15 Core competency standards for ground search and rescue operations:  Searcher, Team Leader, and SAR Manager.

Timeline of the National Accreditation and Certification Pilot (NACP)

The National Accreditation and Certification Pilot (NACP) has begun with several successful Certified Searchers from Prince Edward Island Ground Search and Rescue (PEIGSAR) and the Newfoundland Search and Rescue Association (NLSARA) with many more working through the Certification Process throughout Canada! At this time the pilot has started with a sample of volunteers from one province at a time and will be certifying Searchers only. As the pilot progresses, additional provinces and territories will be added to undergo the Searchers Certification process.  This will progress in a similar fashion with Team Leaders and then finally SAR Managers.
 At this time in the pilot the focus is on Certification. However, accreditation will be addressed at a later date in 2022. 

FAQs About the GSAR-NACP:

What do I do if my Association has its own standards?

It is evident through the past successes of GSAR in Canada that GSAR Volunteers are consistently training. This program is providing them with the resources to continue those efforts and an opportunity to have that dedication be recognized nationally. The GSAR-NACP will also provide resources to Associations and Teams/Groups as to how to get started on meeting the National Standards and how to keep accurate and consistent training records for volunteers. The GSAR-NACP further promotes SARVAC’s guiding principles for cooperation and collaboration between Provinces and Territories by setting a minimum training standard. This program will provide a platform for volunteers meeting those standards to be rewarded. It is not meant to overstep the work Associations are doing for their own training.

What about Technical Teams/Groups (ex: swift water or high angle?) are these included in Certification? 

At this time, National Certification and Accreditation from SARVAC is based only on the SARVAC CSA Z1620-15 Core competency standards. This project is not meant to overstep or replace any work that Associations or Teams/Groups are doing to ensure readiness for their team/group responses. The GSAR-NACP is meant to provide an opportunity for National recognition for meeting a baseline of training to assist uniformity throughout Canada. 

Roles and Responsibilities

Associations and/or AHJ Roles:

  • Review training standards for your province, compare to the CSA Z1620-15 Core competency standards.
  • Assist teams/groups in adjusting training to ensure the curriculum categories are met. 
  • Work with the GSAR-NACP National Committee and Administration office and individual teams/groups to assign a “Qualified Assessor”.
  • Be familiar with the process’ and policies outlined in R&G 2.1 and 2.2 documents and other Supporting Documents provided by the GSAR-NACP Administration Office. 

Who is a “Qualified Assessor”?

An Assessor is someone who attests to the training teams/groups/individuals have completed. The GSAR-NACP Administration Office will keep an updated “Qualified Assessor” list on the SARVAC website. Individuals who are applying for certification can review the list of “Qualified Assessors”.

Most Associations and/or AJH’s will require multiple “Qualified Assessors” and may want several per region, one per team/group, etc. The project understands the varying needs throughout Canada and the R&G documents account for this. 

There are several challenges that may present to also require more than one Assessor per Team/Group, Association, and/or AHJ. These relate to potentially arising conflicts of interest. More details on conflicts are available in the GSAR-NACP Code of Ethcs and the R&G documents.

The Assessor is the individual providing written confirmation to the GSAR-NACP Administration Office that the individuals training requirements have been satisfactorily met and that they are recommended for National Certification. The “Qualified Assessor” can be a Team Coordinator, Training Officer, experienced long-standing member – whatever works best for the volunteers of the Association and/or AHJ. Assessors must be prepared to cooperate with periodic evaluations from the GSAR-NACP NACC.

 What if there are issues taken with the process, the Administration Office, Assessors, etc.?

The GSAR-NACP National Committee will be responsible for any issues, dispute resolution, appeals, etc. individuals can contact the GSAR-NACP National Committee by emailing the GSAR-NACP Administration Office at to initiate the process. 

Team/Group Roles:

  • Review current team/group training standards and practices, compare to the CSA Z1620-15 Core competency standards to ensure the CSA Standards are being met.
  • Assist individuals in accessing past training records to inquire what competencies have already been met. 
  • Work with Assessors to assist individuals requiring Accommodations for training.
  • Be familiar with the process’ and policies outlined in R&G 2.1 and 2.2 documents.  

Individuals Roles:

  • Work with GSAR-NACP office to complete training timely manner
  • Keep complete, organized and accurate training records to assist with the application of training
  • Be familiar with the process’ and policies outlined in R&G 2.1 and 2.2 documents.

Read about the GSAR-NACP and more here in our: “Welcome to Summer 2022: Spring Recap Newsletter”