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2018 A Year in Review saskatoon search and rescue

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we bring hope and comfort to families. We save lives by assisting our agencies of jurisdiction in search and rescue missions.

In 2018 we developed new tools, new skills, and new members to help meet the growing demand for our services.

SSAR’s Mission: To locate lost or missing persons and provide support to our community in non-search emergencies under the direction of Saskatoon Emergency Measures Organization, Saskatoon Police Service, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or other agency of jurisdiction.

In 2018 our 45 active unpaid professionals responded to 28 incidents involving 28 missing persons.

Sixteen activations from the Saskatoon Police Service, ten from the RCMP and one from the Prince Albert Police Service totaled 788 hours of searching.

One standby request from SPS resulted in 9 hours on standby.

Photo courtesy of SPS Air1

Saskatoon Search and Rescue is busier than ever.

We are on call 24/7.

We respond to incidents across the province.

Orange markers signify activations; purple markers signify stand by requests.
At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we believe in being proactive.

In 2018 we officially became a Project Lifesaver agency.

Project Lifesaver is designed to quickly locate individuals with cognitive disorders who are prone to the potentially life threatening behaviour of wandering.

A participant in the Project Lifesaver program wears a wristband that emits an individualized radio-frequency signal.

If a participant wanders, SSAR members who are trained as Electronic Search Specialists enter the frequency into a receiver and can use the signal to search for, and locate the missing person.

After months of training, and thanks to support from the Saskatoon Police Service and the Saskatoon Police Service Foundation, we officially launched Project Lifesaver in January 2018.

By year end we had 29 clients.

If you have a loved one who wanders due to a cognitive disorder such as dementia, Alzheimer's, autism or Down Syndrome, please go to www.projectlifesaversaskatoon.org for more information.

Contact us at projectlifesaversaskatoon@gmail.com.

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we hold ourselves to high standards and are always looking for ways to improve.

In 2018 we welcomed Saskatchewan's first certified civilian search dog.

Jenga and handler Kate, trained for several thousand hours over the past two years.

Photo courtesy Saskatoon StarPhoenix/Morgan Modjeski

An air scenting dog, Jenga follows smells on air currents. She is one more tool to bring people safely home.

In 2018 SSAR members logged over 2,348 training hours!

We design our training activities to meet and exceed the standards for ground search and rescue operations across Canada as set out by the Canadian Standards Association.

In September 2018 we started another Searcher Course.

At the end of November, we welcomed 18 newly certified Searchers. This is just the start of their training.

It takes a lot of time, effort and dedication to be a SSAR member, and training never stops.

Others recertified in Team Leader Train the Trainer, Managing Search Operations, and AdventureSmart presenter training.

Members also took advantage of multi-jurisdictional training in Project Lifesaver with the Saskatoon Police Service SAR team and University of Saskatchewan Protective Services.

All our members are trained to Incident Command System (ICS) 100 level. We are grateful to Saskatoon Emergency Measures Organization for providing training for higher level courses.

Many members continued to hone their emergency medical knowledge by taking Wilderness First Aid, graciously offered by Back40 Wilderness First Aid Training.

We now have the best First Aid trained group of members we have ever had. SSAR volunteers include paramedics, a nurse, a doctor and other medical professionals

When faced with difficult situations, our members will be able to respond with confidence and know they are making a difference.

SARVAC (Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada) held their Ground SAR Trainer Development Session in Saskatoon and several members of SSAR attended.

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we acquire, operate and maintain a mobile command post and equipment inventory to provide search, rescue and support services during emergency or disaster situations.

In 2018 we found an indoor home.

Thanks to the Saskatoon Fire Department for providing us space at the Fire Prevention Station to store our command and logistics trailers.

We are also grateful to Axon Development Corporation for the donation of office equipment. It's great to have a central location to have meetings and store all our gear.

We continue to upgrade our communications systems. In 2018 we purchased individual chargers for some of our handheld radios, air band radios to improve communication with searcher planes, and inReach devices to help keep members safe in remote locations.

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue we are active in the community, proudly wearing our orange uniforms to promote awareness of our organization.

In 2018 we provided information to the public about SSAR, AdventureSmart programs and Project Lifesaver.

Trained presenters led AdventureSmart courses including "Survive Outside" and "Hug-a-Tree and Survive" to several youth and school groups.

Our PSAR program is designed to educate and inform, preventing the need for search and rescue operations.

In a first for SSAR, we presented an AdventureSmart course with the help of a sign language interpreter. The audience at the Deaf Expo for Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services and Saskatchewan Cultural Society was very appreciative.

We increased the visibility of the AdventureSmart program by hosting displays at Cabela's as part of the Nature City Festival.

We also promoted SSAR and its programs to the public at a variety of other events including:

  • River Safety Weekend
  • SGI Safety Fair
  • SPS Community Barbecue
  • Gone Wild for Wildlife
  • Autism Speaks Walk

We promoted National Emergency Preparedness Week and Provincial Missing Persons Week by providing additional preventative search and rescue information on our website and social media channels.

We supported runners in the Saskatoon Police Service Foundation half marathon.

We participated in the annual spring clean-up day to help keep Saskatoon's riverbanks beautiful.

Several SSAR members attended the annual Child Find Saskatchewan fundraising breakfast.

18 members attended the City of Saskatoon's Remembrance Day ceremony.

We assisted in the promotion of the book "Life Lessons From a Red Serge" written in memory of RCMP Staff Sergeant Pete Garvey who was a great supporter and promoter of volunteer search and rescue. Pete always had a smile and humorous words of wisdom.

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we are unpaid professionals. Members volunteer their time, skills and energy because we believe in SSAR's mission and vision.

In 2018, SSAR members volunteered more than 3,200 hours training, searching, and on standby, all for the betterment and safety of our community.

In addition to the time spent training and on activations, SSAR members spent more than 2,165 administrative hours ensuring the smooth operation of our organization.

This includes fundraising activities, executive and committee meetings, maintaining equipment, community events and logistics.

Several of our members are involved in SAR at provincial and national levels as board and/or committee members of SARSAV (Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers) and SARVAC (Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada).

Fundraising is vital to our organization. We are always looking for opportunities, and have become highly efficient at set-up and take-down of large events.

We appreciate the support we get for providing first aid services at public events such as the Meewasin skate parties.

Our first ever showing of the Vancouver International Film Festival Tour was a great success thanks to local sponsors and audience donations.

Mark your calendars for the return of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival Best of the Fest on Monday April 29, 2019.

Public awareness and promotion of our organization is vital to fundraising, recruiting and fulfilling our mandate of preventive search and rescue education.

We are grateful to the Saskatoon media for their ongoing support in helping to get our message out.

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we depend on the generosity of people, businesses and organizations who believe in what we do.

SSAR is run entirely by volunteers, so your support is greatly appreciated. An encouraging word, a donation, or a “like,” “share,” or comment on social media means so much to us. We couldn’t be here without you. THANK YOU to the following donors:

  • Axon Development Corp.
  • Saskatoon International Airport Fire Department
  • Dakota Dunes Community Development Corporation
  • Ernst & Young in conjunction with 100 Women Who Care - Emergency Services YXE
  • Saskatoon Police Association
  • MR Mikes Steakhouse
  • Eco Friendly Sask
  • Centennial Plumbing, Heating & Electrical
  • Nutrien – Vanscoy Potash Operations

And all those who have made individual or private donations.

From Saskatoon Search and Rescue, THANK YOU!

We could not have accomplished all we did in 2018 without the incredible support from the community, our agencies of jurisdiction and the dedication of our members.

Most importantly, we could not have done this without our families, the true unsung heroes, whose understanding and support allows each of us to contribute the time we do to our team.

Thank you for another wonderful year!

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