Niagara local Shane Barton was recently recognized for his 30 years as a search and rescue volunteer.
He was presented an Ontario Volunteer Service Award, and a Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) Niagara award of a 30-year wing pin.
Across Canada, CASARA volunteers provide humanitarian and air search capabilities in support of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Locally, the organization is based out of the Niagara District Airport.
Barton’s involvement with search and rescue began in 1979 with a ground organization. It was later, at a Hamilton Airshow, he learned of CASARA Niagara.
“My involvement with CASARA has been diversified, to say the least,” says Barton. “I started as a spotter, and progressed with learning aviation communications, navigation and safety.” As a member of CASARA Barton has flown as a spotter, served with ground searches, and driven for the unit’s mobile command vehicle.
In addition to Barton’s many searches, he has spent thousands of hours training. “It has been a great adventure serving with CASARA Niagara, where I’ve had opportunity to learn more each year, as technology and skills evolve. I’ve really enjoyed serving with other crew members, and engaging members of the public on enjoying outdoor activities safely.”
While CASARA volunteers are aviation focused, they are also called upon to assist with searching for persons missing on lakes, lost hikers, and other situations of people in distress.
CASARA Niagara has headquarters and a training facility at Niagara District Airport, operating two aircraft and a mobile command vehicle. As a charitable organization, the volunteers depend on donations to maintain their operations. Deemed an essential service, and using COVID protocols, CASARA volunteers have been actively training for the upcoming spring season, typically a high search and rescue season when people spend more time outdoors.
Receiving his awards, Barton told his crew members, “It’s an honour to receive this 30-year pin, and I hope there is a 50-year pin, because I plan on serving for a long time to come.”
For more information on CASARA Niagara, check the website, http://caresniagara.ca.