A large-scale search and rescue training exercise in Dalmeny last weekend involved dozens of civilian volunteers from across the province.
The event marked the first time the North Corman Park Search and Rescue (NCPSR) team has hosted a training exercise in an urban area, according to NCPSR Information Officer Devin King. NCPSR is made up of volunteers from Hepburn, Dalmeny, Martensville, Langham, Warman and Corman Park.
“We picked Dalmeny because of the size of the community,” said King. “We wanted to let everyone know ahead of time what’s happening; that this is a training exercise. The goal is to be as realistic as possible, and that’s why we’re involving the community.”
Over 60 members of the Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers (SARSAV), along with RCMP and Dalmeny Police Service officers, took part in the large-scale operation. SARSAV volunteers from seven different chapters including Moose Jaw, Yorkton and Prince Albert participated. SARSAV has over 350 members in 17 chapters across the province.
The training scenario on Saturday, May 13, which was carefully planned out ahead of time by organizers, involved a search for a fictional 76-year-old man suffering from dementia who was reported missing from his home in Dalmeny the night before.
During the course of the training exercise, SARSAV volunteers went door-to-door, spoke to residents and searched properties for clues in their quest for information. Wooded areas and a body of water on the edge of town were also scoured. In the latter stages of the training exercise, the focus shifted to a rural area near Langham, where searchers recovered a firefighters’ training dummy representing the deceased body of the man they were looking for.
The training exercise was the third of four multi-jurisdictional search exercises (MJSE) involving several SARSAV chapters, said King. A similar event was held last fall near Yorkton and another will take place this coming fall in Big River. The MJSE operations allow SARSAV members to field-test their radio and transmitter repeater systems, as well as practice working together in a real-life scenario. The organization uses ‘Salamander’ computer software that tracks the movements and radio transmissions of registered search personnel in real time.
“This training exercise gives us a chance to troubleshoot and see the limitations of our equipment,” said King. “When we run into problems, we can sort out solutions ahead of time, so we’re not having to deal with it during a real event.”
King said members of the NCPSR organization volunteered to host this training exercise because they felt it was a “great opportunity” to educate the community and involve local businesses.
“We’ve been planning this since last November,” said King. “I think it’s been successful as far as people learning new skills, testing the equipment, and creating a sense of camaraderie among the participants. It’s always good when people who are working together can get to know each other ahead of time.”