If you happened to see a Mountie and a team of red jackets scouring the river shore last week — the latter being members from South Columbia Search and Rescue — rest assured it was a training session, not the real deal.
The night of Wednesday, April 19, Trail RCMP Const. Ryder Heim joined the search and rescue team for a mock training exercise along the old Waneta highway.
The mock scenario simulated a crashed watercraft in the Columbia River. Searchers were deployed to both sides of the river bank to rescue a life-like water training doll.
The team also used a boat to help facilitate the mock water rescue.
“This was a great opportunity for shared training,” explains Sgt. Mike Wicentowich, Trail RCMP detachment commander. “Practicing together in scenarios like this allows us to be prepared should a real incident occur.”
Coordinating these complex mock exercises that involves multiple search teams, jet boat operations, rope rigging and stretcher evacuations, is no simple task.
Throwing a wrench into this critical training over the past few years, was the pandemic. Impacts of COVID-19 didn’t skirt many, including those who — pandemic or not — must remain at the ready to jump in and help search for lost people and deploy rescue measures when needed.
In the past year alone, several members threw in the towel at South Columbia SAR (Search and Rescue). This leaves 27 people to cover a large expanse of ground and water from Trail to Salmo.
“It’s been a tough year to get some training in with the COVID restrictions we have had to follow,” Mike Hudson, South Columbia SAR president, told the Trail Times. “This has resulted in some losses in our membership. (We) lost eight members in the last year.”
Hudson says the team is always looking for great people to join. He encourages anyone interested to visit the group’s Facebook page as their website, www.scsar.ca, is presently under construction.