2017 - A Year In Review saskatoon search and rescue

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

In 2017 our 40 professional volunteers responded to 13 incidents involving 14 missing persons.

Seven activations from the Saskatoon Police Service and four from the RCMP totaled 543 hours of searching.

Two standby requests (one each from SPS and RCMP) resulted in 70 hours on standby.

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 recognize the need to be proactive and in 2017 began the process of becoming a Project Lifesaver agency.

Over the past four years, mental health related issues such as Alzheimer’s or other dementias, autism and despondency have been a factor in almost ¾ of our activations. In several cases, these people have tragically been located deceased.

In 2017, eight of the incidents we were activated or on standby for involved elderly persons with dementia, three persons with other mental health concerns and three involved accident situations.

With initial funding from the Saskatoon Police Service Foundation and support from the Saskatoon Police Service, we obtained the equipment and training required to become a Project Lifesaver agency.

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

In the event that 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.

For persons who are prone to wandering, Project Lifesaver provides families and caregivers with peace of mind daily, knowing that their loved one has protection and safety in case they wander.

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we hold ourselves to a high standard and provide search and rescue training to command and search management, team leaders, basic searchers and new volunteers.

In 2017 we logged over 3800 training hours!

Our Training Committee planned and organized our training days to meet and exceed the standards for ground search and rescue operations across Canada, as set out by the Canadian Standards Association.

This dedication means that when a loved one goes missing, our professional volunteers are there to assist our agencies of jurisdiction and help locate that missing person.

In January 2017 we started another Basic Searcher Course and, at the end of May, welcomed 15 newly certified Basic Searchers. SAR is hard! It takes a lot of time, effort and dedication to be a SAR member.

Five members completed their advanced qualifications to become Team Leaders.

As our provincial organization SARSAV (Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers) works diligently to establish the required framework for canine search and rescue, two of our team members and their four-legged partners are actively training in anticipation and working towards certification that other provinces have adopted.

In addition, members took advantage of training in . . .

Mental Health First Aid, instructed by members of the Saskatoon Police Service

Road to Mental Readiness, instructed by members of MD Ambulance

Advanced Wilderness First Aid, instructed by Back40 Wilderness First Aid Training

Track Awareness, instructed by British Columbia Tracking Association and hosted by Parks Canada

Recertified in Team Leader Train the Trainer and Managing Search Operations

Attended the annual SARscene Conference held in Winnipeg

And took part in two multi-jurisdictional search exercises hosted by SARSAV

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 2017 we continued to increase our knowledge and emergency communications capacity.

Our small logistics/communications trailer has proven to be a vital communication link during active searches with multiple agencies, over long distances and variable terrain.

A rescue litter and mule wheel, along with new AEDs in the event of a cardiac arrest, have expanded our capabilities in the medical and evacuation phases of a search activation and have added an extra measure of safety to public events that we attend.

We had an extremely generous and recent donation of rope rescue gear and we're excited to start training with it in 2018!

We are loving our new team jackets that help us look like the professional team that we are!

They also provide protection from the elements and enable our agencies of jurisdiction and the public to easily identify our members.

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we are active in the community and advance education by providing displays at public events and leading preventative search and rescue presentations.

We did several AdventureSmart presentations (“Survive Outside” and “Hug-a-Tree and Survive”) for various youth and school groups, and during the Nature City Festival.

Presentations to the PROBUS Club of Saskatoon and the Canadian Club of Saskatoon highlighted our team and Project Lifesaver.

A presentation to the annual SEPA (Saskatchewan Emergency Planners Association) conference outlined how lessons learned in scaling up and down a search activation can be applied to all major incidents.

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

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

We provide first aid services at events such as the Meewasin skate parties hosted by Cameco, PotashCorp and Tim Horton's, and FoamFest.

Displays were set up at the Saskatchewan Physical Education Association conference, Saskatoon Police Service Community Barbecue and the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour.

We promoted National Emergency Preparedness Week and Provincial Missing Persons Week, and our website, Facebook and Twitter pages provide additional preventative search and rescue information.

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, we undertake many other activities to achieve and exceed our goals.

In addition to the time spent training and on activations, SSAR members spent in excess of 1800 administrative (and volunteer!) hours ensuring the smooth operation of our organization.

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

In total, our members volunteered more than 6,200 hours in 2017. This is over 2,000 more hours than in 2016!

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

To this end we were provided with several opportunities this year to get our message out.

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).

At Saskatoon Search and Rescue, exciting things are coming in 2018!

Project Lifesaver Saskatoon will officially be launched in mid-January 2018!

We will inspire! For the first time ever, the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival will be in Saskatoon and we hope to make this an annual fundraising event.

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

Whether it was an encouraging word, a donation, or a “like,” “share,” or comment on social media, your support means so much to us. We wouldn’t be here without you and would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to the following donors:

The Saskatoon Police Service Foundation

Dakota Dunes Community Development Corporation

Lardners Trailer Sales

Rely-Ex Contracting and SteelMet Supplies

Saskatoon Cooperative Association Ltd.

Agrium Vanscoy Potash Operations (in memory of Justin Warwaruk)

Craig Gamma

Jan Semenoff, Industrial Training and Design Ltd.

Rotary Club of Saskatoon Meewasin

Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana

EcoFriendly Sask

SaskTel and the SaskTel TelCare Program

SGEU Local 1102

And all those who have made individual and/or private donations!

From Saskatoon Search and Rescue, THANK YOU!

We could not have accomplished all that we did in 2017 without the incredible support we get 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 that we do to our team.

Thank you everyone for a wonderful year!

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