SEARCH AND RESCUE EXERCISE UNDERWAY NEAR THOMPSON

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Manitoba search and rescue volunteers are gathering in Thompson for a two-day exercise as part of a larger training program, in partnership with the newly formed Arctic Response Company Group, designed to test their skills and ensure they are ready to respond, Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun, minister responsible for the Office of the Fire Commissioner, announced today.

“We applaud the efforts and the commitment of people who dedicate their time and energy to search and rescue,” Minister Braun said.  “From the professionals like emergency personnel, staff from the Office of the Fire Commissioner to civilian volunteers, it’s great to know this resource is available when needed.”

Taking place on Aug. 23 to 24, representatives from the Office of the Fire Commissioner, Department of National Defense including search and rescue technicians from 435 Squadron, RCMP, Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, and Search and Rescue Manitoba (SARMAN) Volunteer Association teams from Cross Lake, The Pas and Thompson will gather for a significant training exercise.

The rescue scenario involves a plane crash during a northern forest fire where teams will have to locate the wreckage and then track a handful of injured survivors who have wandered away from the crash site.  This scenario will be as realistic as possible and involve the rescue of crash victims as well as employing specific search techniques such as a grid search, with the additional task of searching for evidence at the crash site.

Training exercises are critical to ensuring teams are ready to respond as quickly as possible to a real emergency.  Participants learn how to look for clues and preserve important evidence or signs that could point to where a missing person might be found.

Thompson residents may see the training activities and a number of search and rescue volunteers in the area but are reminded that this is a training exercise for volunteers to practice their skills.  This combined exercise will give volunteers and representatives from multiple agencies a chance to work together and hone skills that could save a life in a real emergency.  Local police agencies have the responsibility for search and rescue but are able to call on SARMAN volunteers if they need to expand their search or want to quickly put a large trained team on the ground.  There are about 450 SARMAN volunteers in Manitoba.

Following the exercise, a public display of search and rescue capabilities will be on display at the Thompson Community Club from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 26.  To learn more about the SARMAN volunteer association or how to get involved in Search and Rescue in Manitoba, visit:  www.searchandrescuevolunteer.ca.

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