Search and Rescue Exercise at Lumsden Airfield

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By Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The previously wrecked plane is tucked against the tree line to simulate a crash site for the training exercise for the Canadian Armed Forces elite Search and Rescue crew.
Schuurmans is the Provincial President of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA). He is also a search and rescue pilot and drone operator for the organization. Bateman is a CASARA navigator and ground homing specialist.
CASARA is a volunteer organization that helps the Canadian Armed Forces respond to air search and rescue incidents. It offers private aircraft and volunteer crews trained to provide supplemental support for search and rescue missions.
It comprises over 2000 members across Canada, with a presence in all ten provinces and three territories. In Saskatchewan, there are 250 members comprised of pilots, spotters, navigators, drone operators, and ground support. In Saskatchewan, CASARA also aids the RCMP in searches for missing persons.
For today’s training exercise, a personal locator beacon is placed near the aircraft. A C-130 Hercules is conducting training for its crew across the country has left Winnipeg and will be homing in on the beacon. And once located, they will drop streamers to determine wind indicators that will assist the Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs) in their jump to the simulated crash site. Once they are on the ground, their equipment is dropped.
The crew in the Hercules consists of the pilot, spotter, navigator, and SAR Techs. Capt. Darryl Dubuc is the Training Officer on the C-130 running the training exercise and evaluations of the crew. SAR Techs are highly trained search and rescue specialists who help people in distress in remote or hard-to-reach areas. In addition, they provide advanced pre-hospital medical care and are trained to a primary care paramedic national standard.
SAR Techs have an advanced skill set and are land and sea survival experts. Their specialized rescue techniques include Arctic rescue, parachuting, diving, mountain-climbing, and helicopter rescue.
The beacon sends the signal to a satellite which is then relayed to a rescue coordination centre at one of several locations across the country that will dispatch the crew. Schuurmans said once they are close, they will usually hear the aircraft before they see it. It will take an hour to get to our location from CFB Winnipeg.
We hear the craft approach well before we can see it, and it flies over at 12,000 feet. Schuurmans says the information the crew has is there has been an overdue aircraft with an approximate location of the Lumsden Airport. The Hercules takes several passes over us as it circles, attempting to narrow down the signal.
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Downed crop duster practice unit
Once the location is determined, the hatch drops down, and the...continued

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