Community Papers

Search and rescue practice basics just in case they get the call

Brian Lang of Penticton, Ron Muir of Penticton, Dan Jablonsky of South Columbia and Kurt Hasenkox of Penticton work on the tracking part of the exercises. Almost 50 search and rescue volunteers took part in the day-long event designed to enhance tasking skills in the event of mutual callouts.   - Submitted Photo
Brian Lang of Penticton, Ron Muir of Penticton, Dan Jablonsky of South Columbia and Kurt Hasenkox of Penticton work on the tracking part of the exercises. Almost 50 search and rescue volunteers took part in the day-long event designed to enhance tasking skills in the event of mutual callouts.
— image credit: Submitted Photo

There is safety in numbers.

Last Saturday almost 50 volunteers converged on Penticton for the first annual Okanagan Similkameen Search and Rescue tactical training exercises.

Hosted by Penticton Search and Rescue (PENSAR) the Emergency Management BC-certified volunteers spent the day sharing knowledge and team building, a large part of the mutual-aid tasking in an emergency.

“ I think the camaraderie and just getting to know each other was very important,” said Dale Jorgensen, PENSAR search manager and president.

“We do it on real tasks (emergencies) but this really opened up and relaxed things.

“It’s also about going back to the basics. A lot of times you have all these highly technical teams but you still need to be able to do the very basic things well.”

Participants came from search and rescue organizations including Kelowna, Keremeos and South Columbia.

Teams participated in six events, testing their skills and knowledge in navigation, tracking, 24-hour survival, rope rescue, first aid and interviewing, which are the basics in ground search and rescue.

Frequently, depending on the nature of the tasking, Provincial Emergency Program officials in Victoria authorize teams to travel to other areas to assist.

“If we had a large search here it would not be unrealistic for Victoria to approve search teams coming in from Prince George or the Lower Mainland or the Kootenays to back us up,” said Jorgensen. “We’re all trained to province-wide standards.”

PENSAR responds to an average of 24 tasks annually and all members are volunteer, professionally trained and certified. There are currently about 45 on the team. Training and equipment money comes from grants and fundraising activities.

More information is available at www.pensar.ca.

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