On June 12, Wadena and District Search and Rescue (WADSAR) held a search exercise that was dramatically different from those in the past.
The exercise was an attempt to establish specialty groups within WADSAR. Jackie Lindstrom and Marilee Lazar represented a proposed horse team. Bill Anderson and Dave Clark looked at putting together a quad team.
Search manager Pat Casement was asked why these teams were being established.
“The problem with Search and Rescue in our part of the world is that we are rarely utilized. Folks join but get disheartened by the inactivity,” Casement said.
“What we are hoping to accomplish with establishing these teams is to capture groups of folks with a passion and ask them to work search and rescue exercises into their outings. Take the horse team, for example. They get together as a group and go for a ride. We ask them to work on some small exercise as part of that ride. They do not lose their passion for riding and we have access to a trained group of searchers in the event that they are needed.”
Saskatchewan Search and Rescue chapters are primarily geared toward ground search activities. The provincial body is permitting Wadena to explore these different avenues because keeping smaller rural chapters alive is a real challenge.
“We have to walk a fine line between developing local searchers for our area who will remain active, on the one hand, and trying to develop them training- and skill-wise to a national standard without scaring them off, on the other hand.
“Provincially the directive is to build a group of professional volunteers trained in best search practices.”
The use of horse and quad has occurred in past searches, but the Wadena groups are being tasked not only to learn the ropes but also to develop guidelines to help establish other teams around the province.
There is a wealth of knowledge already in place from both the provincial and national volunteer search organizations. The challenge is to take that knowledge and apply it to the local landscape, which will have challenges that are unique. They will need to be identified and solutions presented. This is accomplished through exercises such as the one held June 12.
An example of this would be the horse team arriving and raring to go, not realizing there could be considerable downtime during a real search. The search manager did not know that the horses required different gear for tethering during the downtime. Lesson learned.
WADSAR is interested in developing other interest groups as well. Snowmobile teams and dog handlers are on that list, as well as the possibility of enlisting the assistance of a video drone.
For more information or to volunteer, contact the horse team’s Jackie Lindstrom at 306-338-2009 or the quad team’s Bill Anderson at 306-338-3389.
Pat Casement, as well as being WADSAR president, is a certified search manager and a Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers board member.