BY ANDY LABDON
The Wadena & District Search and Rescue began its life in 1996, two years after the inception of Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers (SARSAV), borne out of tragedy two years earlier when young Ashley Krestianson lost her way – and life – south of Tisdale. At the time, the late Dennis Zaporosky oversaw maintenance at Weneeda Park Lodge and wanted to develop a team or person who could be on call to look for or search for residents who inadvertently wandered away from the lodge and, in essence, formed the ﬁrst search team in Wadena. Zaporosky called upon SARSAV for training and in 2004, Ed Stukoff was persuaded to take the ‘Train the Trainer’ course offered. A year later, 12 people received training and Wadena Search and Rescue (WADSAR) received its charter. From 2005 to 2017 WADSAR was called out six times. However, from the spring of 2018 to today, they have attended nine calls, averaging one a month. “We were beginning to experience burnout as our membership is relatively small,” said Pat Casement, current president of the local chapter. To boost numbers and bring on some young blood, Casement, along with other members, held a search and rescue orientation day at the Wadena Town Office on Jan. 19 this year. Topics covered ranged from equipment used and needed, mental and physical health, search and rescue scenarios. Thanks to the orientation, memberships have grown to 22 active members, of which 14 are fully trained. There is also a Certiﬁ ed ATV search and rescue team. On Jan. 23 WADSAR held its annual general meeting and with the new members all in attendance, it was a full house. The meeting proved fruitful with advice and lessons useful to the new members gleaned from the debriefs of the past year’s callouts. With more members, roles and responsibilities were evenly distributed, and dates for training members were all but set in stone. The training that has evolved over the years from the umbrella association of SARSAV has enabled the 17 search and rescue groups, including WADSAR, in Saskatchewan to become a recognized body of professionals, thus the increased amount of activations. If you are interested in joining the Wadena Search and Rescue contact Pat Casement. People must be 16 years or older to join the search and rescue chapter in Wadena.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEARCH AND RESCUE IN SASKATCHEWAN
The enormous search in 1994 for the missing Ashley Krestianson laid the
foundations for communities to organize themselves with the goal of providing volunteers to aid the RCMP in searches should such an incident reoccur. The RCMP also concluded they, in turn, would beneﬁ t from the assistance of trained searchers. The RCMP and representatives from the communities met and SARSAV became an entity. It then became the umbrella organization along with the RCMP under which community search and rescue teams received training. The evolution of SARSAV continues with training standards now part of the national umbrella for Canada and continues to grow and be monitored. Through this training communities now have well-trained searchers who can be called upon anytime to aid the RCMP with missing person cases. The working relationship with the RCMP has grown into a partnership, and with new partners coming on board like the Ministry of Justice, the model of ‘Search and Rescue’ in Saskatchewan is now a model to be envied. Members come from all walks of life from accountants to zoning managers, men and women of all ages. In short, anyone can join who is enthusiastic and able to put in hours of training, practice and actual searches for those lost or missing; can supply their own equipment and pay for their courses; are ﬂexible to commit time to attend the estimated 1300 searches conducted every year in Canada. The levels of training include Basic Searcher, Team Leader, Search Manager and Instructor. Basic and Team Leader courses are offered throughout the year by the SARSAV chapters with Search Manager and Instructor courses offered by SARSAV. Supplementary courses include map and compass, GPS, ATV certiﬁ cation and first aid.
WADSAR GIVES PRESENTATION TO PIPESTONE CADETS
Wednesday the 2271 Pipestone Royal Canadian Cadet Corps in Wadena welcomed WADSAR secretary Henry Korchalo and his son Demaar, who presented their second instalment of the AdventureSmart Program, speciﬁcally for winter. AdventureSmart and its suite of ﬁ ve programs is a national program focused on those who participate in outdoor recreational activities to keep them safe during their pursuits. Some WADSAR members received training in this program and offer instruction to schools and groups who are interested. As part of the cadets’ winter survival training, Korchalo explained the do’s and don’ts of winter activities. “Plan and know before you go,” explained Korchalo. “Know where you are going, tell someone where you are going and your estimated time back. Check the weather before you go and never go alone.”
Safety is always a priority. Safety equipment and clothing should always be considered when skiing, skating, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and any other activity where there is a risk of falling and hitting your head. Korchalo displayed just some of the safety and survival equipment cadets would need from the most basic to more high-tech, expensive outdoor gear. He also explained the importance of dressing appropriately. “Dress in layers. This can help prevent hypothermia, and covering your head, ears and hands with a toque and gloves can help avoid frostbite. Always have a spare pair of socks – cold feet make you feel cold!” “Remember to stay ‘in bounds’; going ‘out of bounds’ can get you into perilous terrain that can contain tree wells, uneven ground – just be aware,” he warned. A short question and answer session was also held at the end of the presentation.