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Saskatoon Search & Rescue

June 2014 Newsletter

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A Message

From the President

May 2014 was, without a doubt, the most active month in SSAR’s history. Three searches, other standby notices, new basic searchers qualified, new search managers trained, bike team training and joint training with the Saskatoon Police Service. This was all in addition to the regular training program and ongoing projects.  

I have had so many individuals go out of their way to comment to me on the professionalism, competence and dedication of SSAR members that I can’t detail them all. However, I would like to make special mention of a letter received from Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill, thanking SSAR for our outstanding contribution in the Austin Carter search and emphasizing the importance of our partnership with SPS.

Team members should be proud, not only of their performance during this very busy period but also of the long-term dedication to regular training and continuous improvement that has made SSAR what it is.

As we move into the all-too-short summer months the tempo of training will be reduced and, as always, we are hopeful that few people will require our services. While you enjoy this break please take a moment to reflect on your important contribution to the team in this past year and to renew your enthusiasm and dedication for the challenging training program planned for the fall. We have built a very good team with a great future.  Well done SSAR.
Jeff Baxter

What's Happening 


As Jeff noted above, May was an incredibly busy month! In addition to all the training and activations he mentioned, we were active in raising awareness during Emergency Preparedness Week and Missing Persons Week.

Thank you to all the media outlets who covered the training and helped to promote important messages around emergency preparedness and missing persons. Media coverage of the activations emphasized what an important role both traditional and social media have in getting many eyes and ears on the ground that can potentially bring new information and focus to a search and help to locate the missing person. 

Our Training Committee is taking a break for the month of June but will be back with some interesting and fun exercises for us during July and August. A new Basic Searcher Course will also start in late August so if you're interested in joining, please email us

Another Prospective Members' Meeting will be held near the end of June but a firm date hasn't been established yet. Please keep an eye on our website calendar or Facebook page for updated information. 

Note: The banner photo above is the joint SSAR / SPS training group.


Congratulations to our new Basic Searchers who just completed four months of training: Ashley Buller, Sherry Buller, Jarrett Erker, Michael Galbiati-Bourassa and Sean Taylor. They have already been very active members, taking part in many other activities aside from the regular training days. It's great to have them on board! Thanks to Jarod HarveyKent Orosz and Mark Wells for instructing, especially since this was the first time doing the new format for this course. 

table topCongratulations to members Rick Barsky and Rebecca Basset who took the 2-day Search Management for Initial Response Incident Commander (SMIRIC) course and to Shelley Ballard-McKinlay, Dale Johnstone, Kent Orosz and other SAR members from across Saskatchewan who took or re-certified for the 5-day Managing Search Operations (MSO) course. Many thanks to our main instructor, Scott Wright (Saskatoon SAR), and those who assisted Scott at various times throughout the courses: Randy Antonio (Winnipeg SAR), Jeff Baxter (Saskatoon SAR), Rick Elder (North Corman Park SAR) and Bob Smith (Prince Albert North SAR).

Hats off to Saskatoon Emergency Measures Organization for their launch of NotifyNow. Having a notification system like this in place will most certainly assist communications during emergency or disaster situations. Sign up for it now if you haven't already. 


for the Month of May

carter searchOn May 9 SSAR was activated by the Saskatoon Police Service and 19 members assisted in searching for Austin Carter, a 15-year-old autistic boy. Thankfully, Austin was located and safely returned to his parents. A blog post was written (see below) about the search and includes a link to a news article written about Austin following his return. 

On May 15 we were contacted, again by the Saskatoon Police Service, in regards to a missing 80-year-old man, Michael O'Keefe. Once investigation established his last known position, 16 members assisted in the search. The following day, six members along with search teams from the RCMP continued the search. Unfortunately Mr. O'Keefe is still missing. 

On May 26 SARSAV Chapters were contacted by RCMP to bring together resources to search for 17-year-old Kelly Allary, missing from the Ochapowace First Nation near Broadview, SK. Five members of SSAR attended on May 27 and joined forces with SAR members from Regina and Moose Jaw. The search for Allary continues. 

On May 29 we were put on standby by RCMP for a search near Readlyn, SK. Regina, Moose Jaw and Wood River SAR teams were activated to search for 19-year-old A.J. Thompson. Thompson was located on May 30. 

Training and Events

Monthly Training Meetings

The June training dates have been cancelled. Training for July and August will focus on self-study and practice assignments followed by group work to complete the assignments that will be based on navigation, lost person behaviour and Bike SAR tasks (for those who took the Bike SAR course). More information will follow as details are confirmed. Tentative training dates are July 10 and August 7 at 7 pm

SARSAV Quarterly Meeting

The quarterly meeting of SARSAV (Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers) will be held on Saturday, June 7, at the Travelodge Hotel in Saskatoon. Note that start time is 9 am rather than the usual 9:30 as there is a lot on the agenda. 

Executive and Directors Meeting

The next SSAR Executive and Directors meeting will be held on Thursday, June 26, 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. 

New Blog Posts

Lost Person Behaviour: The Search for Austin Carter

On Friday, May 9, 2014, Saskatoon Search and Rescue was activated to search for a missing 15-year old autistic boy, Austin Carter. Austin was found safely thank to the joint search efforts of our organization, the Saskatoon Police Service, Corman Park Police, the Saskatoon Fire Department and MD Amublance. 

Following activations, we always look back at what we did (or didn't do) and examine what went right, what could have been done better. It's easy to second-guess ourselves but we have to be careful to reflect on what we knew at the time, not all that we know now. Read more . . .

A Day of Bike SAR 

The morning came early on Saturday, especially for those of us who were out until midnight the night before on the search activation for missing Austin Carter. But there was so much excitement at the training centre that nobody seemed tired. Read more . . . 

A Tribute to SAR Moms

A couple weeks ago I got an email from Bobbi Buchanan asking what I thought of the idea of profiling SAR moms on social media in celebration of Mother's Day. Awesome idea! Read their great responses here. 
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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