Basic Searcher Training Recap

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Which way to the beach?

Over the past four months, our group of new recruits, including myself, has been in basic searcher training, the first step in becoming an active member of Saskatoon Search & Rescue (SSAR). Between the classroom and the field exercises there was a ton of information to absorb. Here’s a recap of our journey:

In September we camped out at Blackstrap and had a busy weekend of orienteering, constructing improvised shelters, fire making, signaling (at day and night), near-water search skills, and survival discussions. It was a great weekend of testing out new gear and getting some hands-on training in the areas we had covered in the classroom. After all of the challenges, we emerged from it as a more resilient group.

evidence search

Searching, searching . . .

The October training day for evidence searching was generously opened up to include our group of basic searchers and several of us took advantage of the opportunity to expand our skills. The existing SSAR members arranged a series of tasks and put us through our paces, specifically drawing on Sean Taylor’s previous experience as a former member of the Saskatoon Police Service to guide the afternoon. Our three scenarios each became progressively more concentrated, first pushing through a forested area with a wide spacing between searchers, then narrowing down to shoulder-to-shoulder searching, and then finally combing through grass and underbrush on our hands and knees to search for smaller evidence. It was a valuable experience and a good cross-section of the different types of searches we could be called upon to perform.

Aaron

The author contemplating his next move.

Our final field day in November was run as a true simulation of a search mission and saw us divided into teams with separate instructions for locating a missing person in the Meewasin Park area. Equipped with radios, compasses, and a map, the terrain we covered varied from light brush to dense forest. As our searches progressed, new variables were introduced and it was a real taste of how the nature of a task can change from finding clues of the missing person’s whereabouts to locating that person and providing medical care. To add to the test, experienced SSAR members acted as observers only, placing the responsibility in our hands to carry out our search effectively. Our debriefing confirmed what we had done right and highlighted areas for improvement. Overall, the day ended as a success.

With our training completed, I’m proud to say that we’ve been added to the active roster of searchers. Rebecca Basset, our training coordinator, and the other SSAR members that joined her have invested a lot of time in us and we are ready to give back. Thank you for all of your support, dedication, and wisdom.

Written by Aaron Anton

Editor’s Note: Congratulations to our newest members! Aaron Anton, Don Brophy, Shawn Bursey, Stefanie Longueil, Paul Nutter, Shelly Ottley, Zhigang Qu, Jeff Rock, Jaime Storch and Jess Vandenhuvel.

Thanks to all the members who assisted with training the Basic Searcher course over the past few months: Rebecca Basset, Shelley Ballard-McKinlay, Jeff Baxter, Sherry Buller, Henry Eng, Jarrett Erker, Jarod Harvey, Dale Johnstone, Rod Miskolczi, Kent Orosz, Sean Taylor and Mark Wells.

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