On August 8, just northwest of Virden, a group of volunteers gathered to take part in the annual Western Search and Rescue Exercise.
The exercise included Brandon Regional Ground Search and Rescue, Parks Canada, and the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) from Saskatchewan and Alberta.
CASARA is a Canada-wide volunteer aviation association dedicated to the promotion of Search and Rescue Awareness, and to the provision of air search support services to the National Search and Rescue Program. CASARA has a combined provincial exercise once a year. Last year it took place in Camrose, AB and the year before that it was held in Yorkton,SK.
On Saturday there were 12 aircraft in the air participating in the training. The exercises are designed to place flight crews and ground search teams into numerous different scenarios. This gives the volunteers training and knowledge when real calls for help arise.
The planes left Brandon McGill Airport Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The planes circled using the Emergency Locator Transmitter device (ELT) to find the simulated plane crash. Once the accident was located from the air, the pilot landed the plane and had to track the accident with the ELT location on land. Once on scene, that’s when the rescue techniques were employed, putting first aid to use.
Brad Wells, Deputy Zone commander for Brandon Zone 2, stated in an email interview, “We learn something from every exercise, whether it [is] better ways to communicate by radio or text or cell phone. The signal sensing devices are hard to understand sometimes and we are always trying to get better.”
The crews spent their weekend bettering themselves and preparing for real experiences. Wells stated, “Our first aid is always a work in process.” These experiences are what it is all about, expanding your knowledge and becoming better for when a real accident occurs.