On Saturday, July 8, Juan De Fuca Search & Rescue (JDF SAR) conducted ground search and rescue (GSAR) training at the RCMSAR Headquarters and Training Centre in East Sooke. JDF SAR is an inland ground SAR group with more than 60 active members, with specialized teams in rope rescue, Project Lifesaver, swift-water rescue, first aid and tracking.
RCMSAR graciously granted JDF SAR permission to use the land at their training facility, just down the road from the JDF SAR HQ.
GSAR training is done in nearby wilderness areas but good tracker training ground is difficult to come by—it must have enough variable terrain to be able to teach to all levels within a relatively small area. The 25-acre RCMSAR training headquarters is ideal for GSAR tracker training because there is a wide array of landscapes—waterfront, multiple buildings, grassy fields, forests, creeks, ponds etc.
Almost twenty students participated and were divided up between beginners and more experienced trackers. The novices spent the day going slowly step-by-step, analyzing each footprint in detail. This painstaking process of close-up analysis of each footprint is essential to be an effective tracker and GSAR searcher.
The experienced trackers participated in a mock scenario that circumnavigated the property. They had to employ different sign-cutting techniques and were ultimately successful in tracking the subjects and finishing the scenario at the end of the day.
The day exceeded everyone’s expectations, due in part to the property with its wonderful waterfront location and mixed terrain. It had everything needed to provide learning points and complex scenarios that challenged the trackers in training.
JDF GSAR has requested the assistance of RCMSAR in the past with rescues that required boat access or searcher pick-ups/drop-offs but the two groups do not train together very often. In order to better prepare for actual responses, JDF welcomes the opportunity for building connections and joint training with RCMSAR.