Search and Rescue personnel from the length and breadth of Vancouver Island will converge on Oceanside in early June for a mammoth training exercise.
The Rescue on the Rock event, slated for June 4 and 5, will see as many as 60 search and rescue technicians, from basic ground pounders to specialized, highly-trained units, take part.
The event, said Arrowsmith Search and Rescue spokesperson Barry Blair, will be the second in as many years as different search and rescue groups on Vancouver Island work to more closely co-ordinate their efforts.
“There are a couple of reasons why we do this,” Blair said. “First, it will be part of a monthly mock search for us, but the main purpose is to provide a lot of mutual aid, working with other search and rescue groups. It seems to be happening more often than not these days.”
Blair cited the recent search for a missing teen in Duncan as just one of many instances where local searchers were scrambled to aid other groups.
“We also will have different teams, so, for instance, we will be able to get more used to working with the water rescue team from Port Alberni.”
Specialty search and rescue teams will also be practicing their skills in the exercise, including rope and water rescue, K-9 and equestrian teams.
“Also for the first time the Civil Aviation Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) will be involved both in looking for the lost or injured individuals and in directing searchers to their location,” Blair said. “This is a good exercise at fine tuning our communications between three or four different groups in the field.”
Most of the action, he continued, will take place on Sunday with much of Saturday being devoted to welcoming the different teams and getting organized. That night, he said, will be devoted to a meet and greet and a display of new equipment.
Sunday morning is when the action happens, with searchers fanning out in a wooded area to take part in the big mock search.
“The search area is going to be out and around Horne Lake, although specific sites will be a closely guarded secret,” Blair said. “We don’t want the teams to know where the lost souls are.”