103 Search and Rescue Squadron have hauled back a lot of expertise to their home soil in Gander after an international training mission in Greenland and Iceland earlier this February.

"It's basically to work with those people who deliver the search and rescue capabilities over there," Maj. Jean Leroux told CBC News. 

"Because the North Atlantic is obviously a very challenging area of operation, so if there is a marine disaster there, we're all going to show up at the same time."

Fourteen search and rescue crew and support staff from 9 Wing Gander took part in the trip, an extra addition to the squadron's annual training mission in the Canadian north.

New environment, new tactics

103 Squadron trained with search and rescue crews in Nuuk, Greenland, and Reykjavik, Iceland.

"It was that exchange of knowledge and procedure that was key in this exercise," said Leroux.

"It's amazing to see how they all come together and deliver SAR."

103 Search and Rescue Squadron on training mission in Iceland

103 Search and Rescue Squadron's Kevin O'Donnell is hoisted down from a Cormorant helicopter during a mock mountain rescue in Iceland. (Master Cpl Johanie Maheu, 14 Wing Greenwood)

Iceland doesn't have a military, but its coast guard and a volunteer search and rescue organization worked with their Canadian counterparts during the mission.

"103 Squadron is not a shy squadron, per se. So when we got there, we showed our capabilities, what we bring to the table," said Leroux.

"[But] it was also about learning from those guys."

Leroux said the Gander crew learned how to tackle different types of terrain than what they normally encounter in Newfoundland and Labrador, such as rescues from Icelandic glaciers or cliffs.

"We have to open up our eyes to other techniques."

Same mentality, different countries

Leroux said beyond learning different tactics from their international counterparts, there was also a lot of relationship building.

"We all work towards the same goal: saving lives," said Leroux.

"And it doesn't matter which uniform you're wearing. At the end of the day if something happened, we're all gonna go there and help out."

Iceland SAR Exercise with Gander 103 Squadron

Members from the Iceland Association for Search and Rescue demonstrate the functioning of their dog harness with members from 103 Squadron, in Neskaupstadur, Iceland. (Master Cpl. Johanie Maheu)

That strengthening of international bonds could come in handy one day when disaster strikes.

"We can't cover the entire Arctic by ourselves. So we need our partners, like the Danish — through Greenland — and Iceland, so if an incident happens, we all come together."

Leroux said the crew will now be meeting to go over what they learned on the trip, and see what they can work into their regular routines and procedures for Newfoundland and Labrador.

With files from Julia Cook