Princeton Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) specializes in tracking, however they take specialized training courses in various types of rescue techniques.
For instance, this past weekend, Friday through Sunday, members of Princeton GSAR along with Keremeos and Nicola Valley members participated in Ice Safety & Rescue Technician – Advanced— training with Raven Rescue.
Instructors Rob and Paul began the training weekend on Friday with ‘Classroom Instruction.’ During this time trainees learn to ‘assess their situation.’ They are given instruction in how to deal with cold injuries like hypothermia. They are taught about ice, how it’s formed, the hazards of and how to determine if it’s safe to be on. They learn how to keep themselves safe while performing a rescue, how to use their equipment and signals to aid in communication. Technical instruction on the use of ropes and special knots is also provided.
Training on (non-moving water) out at Mackenzie Lake on Saturday, had the trainees right in the water to learn self rescue techniques including the use of ice picks to pull themselves back onto the ice. “Everyone who goes out onto ice should have a set of ice picks,” said Randy Rorvik, manager, Princeton GSAR.
Rescue techniques from shore, on the ice (and in the water) included the use of reach items like; a ladder, ropes, a stick and a Throwbag.
Rorvik explains that just about anything that you can find that will extend your reach safely can be used to pull someone else to safety.
Day three – Sunday, began on the Bridge of Dreams with site assessment and hazard identification.
The instructors took their trainees down to the rivers edge to teach them how to identify entrapments and how to choose the best place to go in.
Identifying the different types of ice and how the movement of the water breaks the ice down was an all important piece in the training on the river ice. (moving water)
Self rescue and victim rescue techniques were practiced both on the ice and in the water of the Tulameen River.
Day two and three of training also included various uses of the RDC (Rapid Deployment Craft) – a rescue boat. It takes minimal storage room when deflated, inflates within seconds, can be carried by one person, can be towed behind another boat or snowmobile can be run across the ice, snow and paddled across the water. It also negotiates class 4 swiftwater. The RDC is known as the “safest, most durable, easiest to use, rescue boat ever made.”
The group spent approximately seven hours a day on the ice and in the water on Saturday and Sunday to complete the Ice Safety and Rescue Technician-Advanced course with the Raven Rescue instructors.
Both Steve Mciver and Ashley Larsen said that the “cold”wasn’t bad. All the trainees were outfitted in drysuits, with proper layering underneath. Safety gear including helmets and tethers were also worn at all times during the training weekend.