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2019 - 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.

Saskatoon Search and Rescue is made up of 40 search-ready members, supported by a growing group of support members who assist with logistics, administration and planning.

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

In 2019, we honed our skills, processes and practices with the goal of improving efficiencies. This report highlights our 2019 efficiency initiatives.

2019 Efficiency Initiative– Pre-alert

SSAR started using WhatsApp to quickly alert members to prepare for a formal callout, with more detailed information following on Active911. With every moment that passes a search area gets exponentially larger. Giving searchers a pre-alert improves our response times.

Our 40 dedicated professional volunteers responded to 34 activations for missing persons.

Once again, this was a record breaking year!

We are on call 24/7.

We respond to incidents across the province.

Orange markers signify Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) activations; Blue markers signify SPS activations for Project Lifesaver clients; Red markers signify RCMP and Prince Albert PS activations.
At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we believe in being proactive.

2019 was the second year of Project Lifesaver Saskatoon (PLS). We continue to take on new clients and were activated 17 times for PLS clients in 2019. This high frequency emphasizes the importance of being proactive and ready to locate these vulnerable people quickly.

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.

2019 Efficiency Initiative - Decentralization of Equipment

We strategically distributed radios and Project Lifesaver receivers to members’ homes throughout the city. This resulted in much faster response times to activations and more effective communication between members.

Project Lifesaver searches frequently begin in vehicles with omnidirectional antennas.

Enabling members to use the antennas and safely monitor for signals on their way to the search site, and be in contact with the rest of the team via radio, has proven to successfully reduce search time by quickly narrowing down the initial search area.

Project Lifesaver client numbers went from 28 at the start of the year, to a high of 42 by year-end. Some clients leave the program due to declining health or moving to more secure facilities.

22 adults and 20 children are currently registered as Project Lifesaver clients and wear transmitter bracelets.

2019 Efficiency Initiative – Support Members

Several non-search members have recently joined Saskatoon Search and Rescue. Among other commitments, they volunteer time to assist with Project Lifesaver intakes and client transmitter battery changes. This allows search-ready members to focus more on field training and organizational tasks, improving our overall readiness.

If you have a loved one who wanders due to a cognitive disorder, please go to www.projectlifesaversaskatoon.org or contact us at projectlifesaversaskatoon@gmail.com.
At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we hold ourselves to high standards and promote a culture of continuous improvement.
In 2019 SSAR members spent more time training than ever before, logging a record 3243 hours.
2019 Efficiency Initiative - Mini Training Sessions

We developed mini training sessions to help members sharpen their search and rescue skills.

These fun and less formal mini-sessions supplemented regular training days and focused on communications, navigation, electronic searching and first aid.

Other training included Near Water Search training, particularly for new members who were just completing their first year.

Several new members also took the Team Leader course and several veteran members re-certified as Team Leaders.

Six SSAR members wrote their ROC-A exam (Restricted Operator’s Certificate – Aeronautical)

Several members attended Incident Command System training, Levels 200 and 300, offered by Saskatoon Emergency Measures Organization, and one member assisted with instructing the RCMP searcher course.

More members were trained as Project Lifesaver Electronic Search Specialists.

We continue to build on our strong relationship with the Saskatoon Police Service, training with them and demonstrating the capabilities of our SAR dog team, Kate and Jenga.

In addition to on-going search training, Kate and Jenga successfully completed their Disaster Live Find Certification.

Learning how to set up a landing zone for STARS or other aircraft is another great way to work with and get to know other emergency response agencies.

Our members attend yearly Multi-Jurisdictional Search Exercises (MJSEs) and train with Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers (SARSAV) teams and agencies having jurisdiction from across the province.

Four SSAR members shared ideas with other SAR organizations at the national Search and Rescue conference in Rocky Mountain House in September.

2019 Efficiency Initiative – Radio Integration

We purchased an additional base station radio and worked with the City of Saskatoon so Saskatoon Police, Fire and EMO can patch into our radio system.

This has resulted in improved communication during searches and other major events.
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.
2019 Efficiency Initiative - SSAR Truck Project

SSAR has always relied on the generosity of members, using personal vehicles, to pull the command post or communications trailer.

Having a fully outfitted SSAR truck, loaded with our equipment and ready to go, will improve our response times and get us out searching faster.

This project could not have moved forward without the very generous support of four major donors:

  • Axon Development Corporation provided the initial $15,000 to get the project started.
  • Kinsmen Club of Saskatoon, already generous supporters of the command post, stepped forward with a $30,000 donation for the truck.
  • Merlin Ford Lincoln provided a significant discount on the truck which is much appreciated.
  • Dakota Dunes Community Development Corporation has once again supported our efforts with a $25,000 donation to assist with customizing the truck.

Thank you for sharing our vision of serving our community.

We are so close! You can help us make the rest of this dream come true (and also get your name on the truck!) by donating at www.signthetruck.ca

Special thanks to the SSAR team members who have been championing this project for several years.

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue we are active in the community, proudly wearing our orange uniforms, building relationships and promoting awareness of our organization.
2019 Efficiency Initiative - More Presenters

Two members trained as AdventureSmart presenter trainers which means they can train other members as presenters. This will allow us to deliver the programs more often without unduly taxing presenters.

We attended several events and provided information to the public about SSAR, AdventureSmart programs and Project Lifesaver.

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

This year presenters went to Weyburn and North Battleford for SAR Awareness Training with high school students enrolled in the Emergency Services Response Training (ESRT).

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we believe that community outreach and developing relationships is one of the keys to success.

Other community outreach efforts included members meeting with Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark to update him on SSAR’s capabilities.

15 members attended the City of Saskatoon’s Remembrance Day ceremony in SSAR uniforms or as representatives of other agencies.

Our social media following has grown to more than 2300 on Facebook and more than 1500 on Twitter. Your encouraging words, your likes and shares help to spread the word about what we do.

Saskatoon Search and Rescue members were honoured and humbled to be recognized at two events.

In April, Saskatoon Search and Rescue members were featured as "Heroes of the Game" at a Saskatchewan Rush game.

In November, Saskatoon Search and Rescue was presented with a YMCA Peace Medal. Our members with YMCA Executive Director, Dean Dodge.

"The YMCA Peace Medal is used across Canada during Peace Week to recognize the achievements of individuals or groups who, without any special resources, demonstrate in their lives and activities the values expressed by PEACE (Participation, Empathy, Advocacy, Community, Empowerment) and serve as models of what all of us are capable of achieving if we choose."

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.

SSAR members volunteered more the 6400 hours for the betterment and safety of our community.

In addition to the time spent training and on activations, SSAR members spent more than 2100 administrative hours ensuring the smooth operation of our organization.

This includes fundraising activities, executive and committee meetings, maintaining equipment and much more.

Several of our members are also 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).

2019 Efficiency Initiative - Privacy Officer

A non-search member, with extensive training and work experience in the area of privacy legislation and access to information, is now acting as SSAR Privacy Officer. She is helping to review and update policies as well as implement best practices for our information storage.

2019 Efficiency Initiative- New Data Management System

Through SARSAV (Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers), we introduced new data management software designed specifically for emergency management and rescue organizations.

Once fully implemented, Volunteer Rescue will simplify administrative tasks and serve as a remotely accessible hub for member and equipment information.

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

Fundraising is vital to our organization so we are always looking for grants and honorarium opportunities. The Rotary clubs generously provide an honorarium in return for setup and takedown at their Lobsterfest and Ribfest events.

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

...and the honorariums we receive from EcoFriendly Sask for riverbank cleanups.

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

We are grateful to all those who help get our message out.

SSAR is run entirely by volunteers, so your support means a lot. THANK YOU to the following donors who supported us during 2019:

100 Women Who Care

100 Men Who Give A Damn

Proceeds from the Saskatoon International Airport Fire Department's annual charity barbecue

Saskatoon Co-op for providing gift cards used to purchase water, juice and food for activations.

SAR dog Jenga got a GPS collar thanks to a gift from Federated Cooperatives Ltd.

SaskTel and TelCare made a donation that enabled us to purchase an additional receiver for the Project Lifesaver program.

Other donors and donations include:

  • Interstate Batteries of Saskatchewan provided a 1 year supply of batteries
  • Prairie Malt donated roadside kits
  • Brightsource donated a light bar for the truck
  • Several personal donations, including an $800 Esso fuel card from an anonymous donor

For the second year, we sold out our screening of the Vancouver International Film Festival. Join us for the third annual show on April 20, 2020, at the Broadway Theatre.

Thanks to our Matching Sponsors: The North Face Saskatoon Store owned & operated by The Prairie Summit Shop, and Outter Limits, who matched up to $1000 in audience donations.

  • Thanks also to our Supporting Sponsors: •Back40 Wilderness First Aid Training •Maduro Coffee Company •Bruce's Cycle Works •Lardners Trailer Sales •Koncept Sign Group •Saskatoon Animal Control Agency •SaskEnergy •Eb's Source for Adventure •Brainsport •Grace Beyer, Re/Max •Martensville Veterinary Hospital •Mini Fridge Theatre •Alpine Club of Canada - Saskatchewan Section

And to all those who made private donations - THANK YOU!

THANK YOU to ALL our donors and supporters!

Saskatoon Search and Rescue could not have accomplished all we did in 2019 without the incredible support from the community, our agencies of jurisdiction and the dedication of our members and their families.

From Saskatoon Search and Rescue, THANK YOU for a wonderful year!