Thirty-year search and rescue technician Sergeant André Hotton believes in having a ‘Plan A.’
“Then Plan B, Plan C…always have a back-up plan. You can’t do this job alone; it’s always as a team, and you always want to smooth the edges with your team so that everyone has their say, it’s all evaluated and the best out of it all is taken. What’s left becomes Plan D.”
Doing all of that in the back of a CC-130 Hercules or CH-149 Cormorant, with an open ramp, wild winds and rain in the sky beyond, stormy seas or steep mountains below, often in darkness, with precious minutes ticking by as someone below needs immediate rescue? “It works,” Hotton says. “You really have to listen, and figure out what people mean. Working over intercom, say, even a pause in a sentence means something.”
Forty-two years – and counting – into his Canadian Armed Forces career, Hotton believes, nowadays, they call it “crew resource management.” To him, it’s listening. He’s been doing it all his life.
The youngest of 10, Hotton grew up in Gaspé, “between the sea and the forest, always outside walking through the woods or beachcombing.” His father was a Second World War veteran; his mother was a teacher. There were no sports, but Hotton was always busy, taking things apart to rebuild. Every time one of his siblings learned something new, they showed him. He laughs: his first “hoist” was at age five, as an older brother tested the strength of a Meccano set…