Nova Scotia RCMP and Halifax Regional Search and Rescue took part in a remote rescue training exercise Thursday.
“The scenario is that there’s a lady that was out hiking on the trails here with her dog. The dog chased after a deer or some sort of animal in the woods. She ran after the dog and injured herself so she’s back in the woods injured and needs medical assistance to get out of the woods,” said Const. Laurie Haines.
Haines works as an incident commander, who liaises with search and rescue organizations across the province when they are called out to try and locate an injured or missing individual.
In this scenario, the team used an argo — a specialized rescue vehicle — to travel deep into the woods near a popular hiking trial. Searchers then comb dense brush looking for the injured woman.
“Remote rescues are the evolution of search and rescue in Nova Scotia,” said Paul Service, Halifax Regional Search and Rescue.
“We’ve shifted from search into a rescue mode where people are going out, we’re finding where their locations are.”
Service says remote rescues take time and dedication by searchers. “It’s not something that happens within minutes. It’s hours or longer. All of our people are prepped for longer periods than that, actually 24 hours,” he told Global News.
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In the mock situation, the woman is located by searchers who check her for injuries. Many of Halifax Regional Search and Rescue team members are trained to the Wilderness Remote First Responder level. Which means they are able to quickly assess a patient and determine the resources required to evacuate the patient from the woods.
“The search and rescue teams simply have training and experience and expertise that we don’t have as a police organization”.
“They invest a lot of time and effort into getting the best equipment they can, that’s specific to finding people in the woods and getting them out and then they have the training to go with it. They just have a capability that as a police organization we can’t match.”
Search and Rescue says due to the pain experienced by the subject in this training scenario it was determined that an extraction by air was the best. The Department of Natural Resources arrived on scene with one of their new helicopter to assist with the training and the woman was successfully transported from the woods to the chopper.
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In Nova Scotia there are approximately 1,400 volunteers on 23 different teams who dedicate their time to search and rescue operations.
Officials are reminding people to be prepared when heading into the woods so they don’t need to put their training into practice.
“Make sure you get adequate food and water, you’ve got clothing so that if you have to spend the night, you can and if at all possible, let somebody know where you’re going to be so if you’re cell phone gets damaged or something happens to it then at least we have a starting point,” said Haines.
“We’re hoping we can prevent these types of calls to be honest with you,” added Service.
“We’re hoping that we never get to this point but we are prepared and ready to go.”