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Four men were camping in eastern P.E.I.
Two of them went canoeing and never returned, a third was burned by campfire and the fourth went missing after calling in to report the emergency.
While the scenario was fictional, volunteers with P.E.I. Ground Search and Rescue (P.E.I. GSAR) treated it as a very real emergency during a mock exercise in the Montague and Brudenell areas on Sunday.
About 30 volunteers attended the July 7 exercise, some to brush up on skills and others to be trained for the first time.
Devon Herring, logistics officer with P.E.I. GSAR, designed and oversaw the mock scenario. He’s been volunteering for 12 years and was ready to help others if needed throughout the exercise.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about getting more proficient at all our skills.”
The exercise started at 8:30 a.m. and ended around 5 p.m.
Volunteers met at Montague Consolidated School, where P.E.I. GSAR had trailers and a communications team set up.
Throughout the day, volunteers practiced core skills such as searching techniques and first aid. Herring’s scenario focused on kayaking, so some volunteers had their first training in searching waters.
“It’s a good opportunity to get some newer bodies in there and get their skills up to where they’re comfortable with.”
P.E.I. GSAR had paramedic students roleplay as the four campers. Team of volunteers were split up and given their objectives before venturing out.
Search and rescue manager George Williams spent the day on the ground with volunteers.
In a real-life scenario, he said he would act as correspondent between P.E.I. GSAR volunteers and police.
“Because it’s their responsibility to find missing people, and they use the P.E.I. GSAR as a resource to help in that.”
There is a national set of core competency skills for search and rescue organizations throughout Canada, he said.
“There’s a bunch of different standards that we have to meet, or we expect ourselves to meet.”
Exercises are usually spread out across the Island. This way, they can show communities what they do and volunteers across the Island don’t always have to travel far to attend, Williams said.
Most people volunteer with P.E.I. GSAR because they want to help their community, Herring said.
“We all just want to give back,” he said. “At the end of the day, it does the heart good.”