By Tina Comeau
Yarmouth County residents need not be concerned if they see a lot of search and rescue vessels and aircraft in the vicinity of Comeau’s Hill, Little River Harbour and off of the Tusket Islands on Wednesday, June 27.
The activity will be part of a search and rescue (SAR) training mission.
“It’s basically a means of training with our multi-partner agencies. A lot of federal, provincial and municipal agencies are involved,” says John Drake, search-and-rescue preparedness officer with the Canadian Coast Guard.
“It’s a means of bringing all of these partners together to actually practice some of the skills and to hone some of our search and rescue skills,” he adds. “You’re going to be able to identify a few gaps and what needs to be improved upon, these types of things.”
The scenario of the exercise will be an overdue kayaking tour that will have 12 to 16 casualties. Some of the casualties will be mannequins, others will be people enrolled in the Coast Guard’s inshore rescue boat student program.
Among the agencies taking part in the training exercise are the Coast Guard, Yarmouth County Ground Search and Rescue, the RCMP, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, CASARA (Civil Air Search and Rescue Association) and Nova Scotia Public Safety and Field Communications.
In addition to the DFO and Coast Guard resources that will be employed in the training exercise, the 413 Squadron out of Greenwood is also taking part and will be sending a Hercules aircraft and a Cormorant helicopter.
Although a specific scenario is part of the exercise, the skills and training will be applicable to other search and rescue incidents.
“It's a great opportunity to bring together all of the local SAR partners in the area so they get a feel for how we do business and we get a feel for how they do business, what we have for equipment, what they have, those kinds of things,” says Drake.
Two weeks ago a similar training exercise took place in Shediac and after the Yarmouth County exercise other training exercises are planned for next month in Halifax and the Northumberland Strait.
The public may notice some things associated with the training exercise, notes Drake.
“The casualties will have access to white signal flares so they shouldn’t be mistaken for the red distress flares,” he says. “But sometimes they have a pink trail that comes off them so people see them and think somebody is in trouble. We will also be using illumination flares during the day.”
Meanwhile, although the public is not directly involved in this exercise the public does play an important role when it comes to search and rescue incidents.
“People that live along these shorelines, these communities, if they see anything out of the ordinary they might want to think about contacting the local authorities,” says Drake. “Those eyes and ears out there play a valuable role to us. A lot of the time that’s how we’re alerted that something is happening.”
(Note: The Yarmouth Vanguard is covering this training exercise and will have coverage of the event on NovaNewsNow and in our newspaper.)