Map & compass - exercise for the brain! Training, events and more. 
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Saskatoon Search & Rescue

July 2013 Newsletter

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What's Happening 


Read a map. Use a compass. It's good for the brain! Take the Team Leader course and learn more about searching skills. Help us promote Saskatoon Search & Rescue at some local events. Check out the Training and Events section for details. 

Member profile of SSAR Vice President, Jeff Baxter

Gear, Gadgets, Gizmos - Do you carry your rope in a throw bag? Learn more about lost person behaviour. 

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!


Near-Water Searchers

On June 6 and 9 several members attended the near-water search training and we now have five members who are newly certified to be part of a near-water strike team. Congratulations to Jarod Harvey, Mark Wells, Stuart Stevenson, Chris Franko and Louis Bossaer. Thanks to Jeff Baxter who not only instructed the course but who braved the cold water so that we had someone to "rescue". hypothermia wrapnear water search training

Training and Events

Monthly Training Meetings

  • Thursday, July 11 - 1900 - 2130 hrs - Basic Navigation Training (Session 1) -- meet at the parking lot off Central Avenue, about 1/2 km north of the entrance to the Regional Psychiatric Centre. 
  • Thursday, August 8 - 1900 - 2130 hrs - Basic Navigation Training (Session 2) -- location to be determined.

Navigation is a critical skill for everyone involved in Search and Rescue so we will work on some basics using map, compass and GPS. July will focus on map and compass skills and August will focus on navigation using GPS devices. It is very important that as many members as possible attend this training. Why? In October the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) and the agencies that fall under EMO (Police, Fire, SSAR, etc.) will be holding a multi-day training scenario. It is expected that SSAR members will be involved October 7-8 and map, compass and GPS skills will be an important part of our tasking. 

Please mark all these dates on your calendars. October 7-8 are weekdays so if you are able to arrange for time off work to take part in the exercise it would be a good idea to start arranging that now. More details will be available as the time gets closer. 

A full list of training dates for the next several months can be found on the Training page of our website. 

Promotional Events

There are several summer events coming up that will provide great promotional opportunities for SSAR. Volunteers are required! 
  • Saturday, July 13 – SSAR will be assisting with safety aspects of the Dirty Donkey Adventure Race being held at Blackstrap. If you are able to attend all or part of the day, contact Rebecca.
  • Tuesday, July 16 – SSAR and other emergency services will set up displays at the Police Week barbecue in front of the Saskatoon Police Service, 130 4th Avenue N. We need at least two SSAR members to be there from 1100 – 1400 hrs with our command trailer. Duties include promoting SSAR with the public, handing out information and membership brochures and other giveaways. If you can help out even for an hour, let Shelley know.

Team Leader Course

A team leader course is being planned for September 2013. This is the first course we have hosted since February 2012 so everyone who is at all interested is encouraged to sign up for the course. Although completion of the course certifies you to act as a Team Leader during exercises and activations, taking the course does not mean you have to do that. In many ways the course can be looked at as an extended Basic Searcher Course. During the four-day course topics such as search tactics, the basics of lost person behavior and much more are covered. Anyone looking to expand their knowledge of Search and Rescue beyond the Basic Searcher Course should attend.

The course will be held over 2 evenings (classroom) and a  Saturday field day that will run overnight into a second field day on Sunday, with everything wrapping up mid-afternoon. This is a much more compressed approach than we have done in the past with a larger outdoor/practical component.

  • Thursday, Sept 5 (classroom)
  • Friday, Sept 20 (classroom) -- NOTE change of date from previous listing. This is now a week later than originally planned. 
  • Saturday Sept 21 to Sunday Sept 22 (field portion overnight)

If you are interested in signing up for the course or have questions, please email us.

SARSAV Conference & Games

The SARSAV (Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers) Conference and Games that were scheduled for Sept. 27-29, 2013, have been postponed to Spring 2014. 

July Executive & Directors Meeting 

The next SSAR Executive and Directors meeting is scheduled for July 25, starting at 1900 hrs. These are the 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 Executive and Directors meetings, please email us. 

Member Profile

Jeff Baxter

Marriage often requires compromise. Especially when one or both spouses have professions that require time away from home and family, lengthy absences to other parts of the world, or moves from one side of the country to the other. But Jeff and Julie Baxter, along with daughter Rori (10) and son Callum (9), have made it work.
Jeff at Basic Searcher TrainingJeff was with the Canadian Navy for 14 years and, as any military family knows, the job often has to come first. Being called out for emergencies at any time of the day or night, moving into a new house in Halifax one day and Jeff leaving on a six-month deployment to Yugoslavia the next day, and 1 ½ years as a military observer in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt and Israel are just a few of the things that had to be worked around.
The Navy is where Jeff learned and mastered many search and rescue-related skills. He also took some courses and worked with Halifax Search & Rescue and Maritime Search & Rescue.
After Jeff retired from the Navy he and Julie spent more than a year working and travelling around the United States. Julie signed on with a travelling nurse company and had 13-week assignments in four different cities. In New York, Jeff didn’t have his green card yet; in Salt Lake City, he worked at the Olympic Games; in Key West, he was a dive master; and in San Francisco, he got work as a kayak guide. 
Moving on to Yellowknife Jeff and some friends formed Arctic Response, a company that specializes in safety training and emergency preparedness, where he instructed several search and rescue-related courses. He also worked with Yellowknife SAR, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the 440 Squadron SAR.
In 2008 Jeff moved his family to Saskatoon so that Julie could complete her residency to become a family doctor. Jeff continued to work with Arctic Response until this past year when he started studying bioinformatics at the U of S.
Not surprisingly, Jeff joined Saskatoon Search and Rescue and has been an integral part of the Training Committee. He is a Search Manager, an instructor of the Basic Searcher, Team Leader, Navigation, and Near-Water Search Courses, and presently sits on the executive as Vice President.
Search Manager Jeff giving info to TL'sJeff was the Search Manager during a major search for a missing person last year that involved over 50 people from several local SAR groups, police, fire and the HMCS Unicorn who were divided into multiple ground search teams and three boats on the South Saskatchewan River. He is extremely proud of how professionally SSAR members conducted themselves, used the training they’d received, and followed the command system and safety procedures.
Jeff says it’s a great feeling to be part of Saskatoon Search and Rescue and to watch as it grows and develops into an organization that’s going places. 
Given Jeff’s Navy background and many years of living near water, it’s not surprising the family is soon heading west for a couple weeks to get their “ocean fix.”

Gear, Gadgets, Gizmos

And Other Cool Stuff

A throw bag is one item that Jeff Baxter always has in his SAR pack. Even when not searching near water, it's an easy and convenient way to carry a rope for other purposes, such as tying up tarps or a hypothermia wrap. And if you happen to get near water, you've already got it with you. 

Learning about lost person behavior is a must for people serious about Search and Rescue. Robert Koester's book Lost Person Behavior: A Search and Rescue Guide on Where to Look - For Land, Air and Water gets excellent reviews. Outside Magazine did an interesting interview with the author about searching for autistic children. 

Gear, Gadgets, Gizmos is a regular newsletter section featuring a couple of items that SSAR members find useful. Got something you think others would like to hear about? Please email the Communications Director.

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