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Training begins for Omni Guyana's first civilian SAR team
Guyana's first search and rescue rear crew has been selected and begins training for S-92A offshore operations.
Guyana's first civilian helicopter SAR rear crew Ishwar Parbhu, Daniel Yorris, Johnelle Ogle, Kevin Sawh, Somant Heeralall and Curt Mendonca.

Omni Helicopters has officially selected six Guyanese nationals to become search and rescue rear crew members with additional aviation security roles. The team has commenced training in its primary role as rear crew, to work as part of the team supporting the SAR helicopter.

In March 2023, Omni commenced SAR services in Guyana in support of energy sector clients with two Leonardo AW139s, providing search and rescue and medevac cover for a high tempo offshore crew change operation. In June 2023, the company completed the transition to a Sikorsky S-92A that had been fitted with a dual hoist, Nightsun, FLIR, a triple litter stretcher kit and an extended range fuel tank. Dubbed ‘the world's most connected helicopter’, SkyTrac Iridium Certus and cellular/wi-fi connectivity, capable of delivering dozens of mission-critical capabilities, had also been installed. And in line with a firm commitment to Guyanese content, Omni planned to transition the rear crew team for this helicopter to Guyanese nationals.

The recruitment and selection process took place over several months with advertisements in the local media outlining the role and skills required. Curt Mendonca, Somant Heeralall, Daniel Yorris, Ishwar Parbhu, Kevin Sawh and Johnelle Ogle (first female) were selected to be members of Guyana's first ever civilian helicopter SAR team.

The crew will be trained to operate as rescue swimmers initially, and in the future as winch operators. They will be taught to act as observers during SAR missions and, when needed, to support missions to safely rescue persons or casualties from vessels, offshore installations, water or challenging jungle terrain.

Duncan Moore, CEO of offshore and onshore international at Omni Helicopters International, who is responsible for the group's operation in Guyana, says: "We are proud to be able to support national talent and to help develop the aviation sector in Guyana. Supporting our communities is something we take seriously and is part of the Omni way. We are very confident of these new members' ability to develop into a world-class SAR rear crew team."

The recruitment process had multiple stages. The first assessed character and physical capabilities alongside technical proficiency to operate helicopter equipment. The shortlisted candidates were then invited to attend a presentation for a detailed explanation of the role, including video footage of training and missions, along with a tour of the SAR aircraft. The third stage involved water skills and capability tests at the 3t EnerMech Offshore Training Centre in Georgetown, which included Helicopter Underwater Escape Training, all while being observed for adequate communication skills. Candidates then observed actual SAR crew training during an offshore flight as a final assessment to ensure comfort in the helicopter with open doors and ongoing tasks.

Initial training has already begun for the secondary role of supporting aviation security and gaining familiarity around Omni Helicopters' operation at Ogle airport. Candidates also participate daily in swim training to build confidence and stamina at the Guyana National Aquatic Centre.

The SAR rear crew training programme commences in earnest this month with a trip to a dedicated offshore training centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada before returning to Guyana and continuing on the job training.

It is expected that Guyana's first SAR rear crew will be fully operational by mid-2024.

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