Keeping you up to date on the latest news and events in the world of Saskatoon Search and Rescue
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Saskatoon Search & Rescue

September 2014

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What's Happening 


Whew! September is going to be a busy crazy month of training! Not only do we have a new group of 15 (count 'em . . . 15!!!) candidates starting the Basic Searcher course, we also have some "out of the ordinary" and very interesting training coming up. 

basic searcher classAs always, we just couldn't do all that we do without members who put in extra time and effort to make things happen. Thanks so much to: 

  • Floyd Besserer and Rebecca Basset for leading the advanced navigation session on August 7. Also thanks to Saskatoon Police Service Sgt. Grant McMillan who joined us for the training. It's great to see people from the other agencies we work with take advantage of the training we offer. 
  • Rebecca Basset for leading the introduction session for the Basic Searcher Course candidates on August 21. A four-month course is definitely a team effort and, while Rebecca will be facilitating the course, several other members are lined up to help with instruction. 
Have you ever wondered how SSAR gets called out and what happens during an activation? Read our latest blog post called "The Anatomy of a Search Activation."


During the Past Month

On August 23 an 89-year-old woman was out picking blueberries with her family in an area north of Meadow Lake. In the late afternoon, she was separated from the group and when she could not be located, RCMP were notified. Search and rescue teams from Saskatoon, Big River, Buckland and North Corman Park, along with CASARA (Civil Air Search and Rescue Association), SERM (Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management) and Meadow Lake Fire Department were called upon to assist. Several community and family volunteers also took part in the search.

Saskatoon Search and Rescue was called at approximately 3 am and we were able to mobilize six members. 
Our search efforts were concentrated in a heavily treed area beside a lake. Just after 1 pm on August 24, almost 24 hours later, CASARA spotted the lady walking a cut line several kilometres away. Ground crews were able to access her a short time later to confirm her identity and let everyone know this very strong lady was tired but safe and sound. A big cheer went up when searchers and family heard she was okay. 

group photoEach search is a
 learning experience.
This was one of our first times working with convergent volunteers and the training and leadership skills of our team were invaluable in helping to ensure the search progressed in a controlled and methodical manner. At the end of the day, family members sincerely thanked all the searchers for their help. 

As a side note, everyone laughs at the blindingly bright orange shirts we have. But in dense trees and bush, they are worth more than their weight in gold! 

Photo: (L-R) RCMP Sgt. Pete Garvey, SSAR members Shelley Ballard-McKinlay, Tracy VanBrabant, Rebecca Basset, Sean Taylor, Sherry Buller and Diane VanBrabant

At 3:14 am on August 30 Saskatoon Search and Rescue was activated by RCMP to assist in the search for a missing 6-year-old boy at Sucker River which is located 4 1/2 hours away, north of La Ronge. We were able to field three members. Travelling with two members from North Corman Park SAR, we were a few minutes north of Prince Albert when we received a call that the young boy had been located. We were especially thankful for this due to the very heavy rain that was pouring down at the time!

Other SARSAV chapters activated were Big River and Hwy 55 North. 

The Anatomy

of a Search Activation

The text tone on my phone sounds at 1:45 am. Without looking, I know it’s a message from Rebecca. She’s the main keeper of the callout list for Saskatoon Search and Rescue and the only person in my contact list for whom I have an audible alert tone.

“SPS Activation 0145hrs: 75 yr old male. Missing since 1900 hrs. Dementia, other med concerns. Meet pkg lot Greystone Hts School, 2700 Main St. Available?”  Read more . . . 

Training and Events

Monthly Training Meetings

Training sessions are generally held the first Thursday and Saturday of the month. All Thursday evening sessions are held at the Fire Training Centre, 116 Ave W S, unless otherwise specified. Field days are generally held the following Saturday. 

Thursday, Sept 4 – Basic Searcher Course, 7 pm at the Fire Training Centre.

Sat/Sun Sept 6 & 7 – Starting at 9 am. Location to be confirmed. This will be a two-day basic skills and safety portion of the Basic Searcher Course with additional topics such as near-water search, shelter building, night searching, signaling, minor first aid scenarios, and basic search types as the focus. The overnight portion is not mandatory but organized activities will not end until late in the evening (~10:30 pm) and commence on Sunday at 8:30 am.  You will be encouraged to stay the night either in tents or improvised shelters. At the Sept 4 session we will let everyone know the final things you will need to bring. Typically you are responsible for your own food/water and clothing for the weather and activities.  ** Note: Members requiring Basic Searcher recertification must also attend this weekend. Team Leaders are encouraged to attend to assist with instruction and to lead scenarios.
Thursday, Sept 11 – 7 pm
Saturday, Sept 13 - Field Day – time/location TBD. Topics will include emergency scene and patient assessment, first aid and scenarios. 

Sept 15 - 17 - Critical Incident Stress Management - Five members will be attending this training hosted by the Saskatoon Fire Department. 

Saturday, Sept 20 - Evidence Search Training, 9 am - 5 pm, starting in classroom and then an outside location. Instructors will be Sgt. Pete Garvey and Dr. Ernie Walker. Sgt. Garvey is with the Saskatchewan RCMP search and rescue team, has worked in the RCMP Forensic Identification Section and has taught evidence search to new recruits at Depot Division. Dr. Walker is a Professor at the U of S, a Forensic Anthropologist and a S/Cst with the RCMP. He has worked on over 70 homicide investigations during his career and is very highly respected by police services across Canada. (Note that attendance at this training is limited and by invitation only.)

Weds/Thurs, Sept 24-25 - Search Exercise with RCMP. On Sept 24 the RCMP search team will be conducting training in the Cochin area. On Sept 25 they will move to an area near Radisson. Each day will begin at 0800 and end late afternoon/evening. Further details to follow once confirmed. Due to the nature of this exercise, you must have Basic Searcher certification to attend this training.
Thursday, Oct 2 – 7 pm
Saturday, Oct 4 - Field Day for Basic Searcher candidates but all other members are welcome to attend â€“ time/location TBD

Saturday, Oct 18 - Field Day for all other members but NOT Basic Searcher candidates. 
Thursday, Nov 6 – 7 pm
Saturday, Nov 8 - Field Day – time/location TBD
December – Basic Searcher candidates will have a final skills assessment and knowledge review. Date/time/location TBD.  

Emergency Management

Several Emergency Management courses are being offered this fall through Saskatoon EMO. SSAR members interested in taking any of these courses should contact EMO directly. Be sure to let them know you are with SSAR and, once completed, provide our Membership Director with a copy of your certificate. There is no charge for most of the training offered by EMO. 

The Swift Current Fire Department is hosting JIBC (Justice Institute of British Columbia) Emergency Management Programs in October and November. See our website for details and contact information. 

SARSAV Meeting

The next meeting of the Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers (SARSAV) is Saturday, Sept 6, at 9:30 am at the Saskatoon Travelodge. The meeting is open to all members in good standing of Saskatchewan SAR chapters. 

SARscene Conference

The annual SARscene conference is being held Oct 30 - Nov 3 in Niagara Falls, ON. Registration is now open and a schedule of presentations and training is on their website

Executive and Directors Meeting

The next SSAR Executive and Directors meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept 25, at 7 pm. These are business-style meetings of our chapter and are held the last Thursday of each month. All members are welcome to attend. If you would like to speak to an issue concerning SSAR, please notify the President prior to the meeting so time can be allotted on the agenda. If you would like a copy of the minutes from any past meetings, please email us

And More . . . 

Check our website calendar for more events and training information. 
What else would you like to see in the SSAR newsletter? Do you have something that should be included next month? Please email the Communications Director with your ideas, comments and feedback. Thanks!
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