Moose Jaw Search and Rescue team member Fern Paulhus finds that being a part of the volunteer rescue force has a great impact on the community, and he hopes that more of Moose Jaw will consider joining.
“The more members we have to come out on an actual lost individual, [the better the chance of success],” said Paulhus. “If we've only got five or six people and it’s a big area to search, verses if we've got two hundred people, you're guaranteed we're going to bring them home alive.”
The local SAR team is made up entirely of community volunteers, who are open to taking the mandatory training that certifies them to be part of the emergency resources available to the Moose Jaw Police Service, RCMP, and Emergency Measures Organization.
This team is largely a force equipped for a ground search, although Paulhus said a few members are certified for dive searches if the local or provincial authorities are in need of assistance.
Each fall, the SAR hosts an information session to present the details of what they do to interested potential members. This year, they will be meeting on Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the South Hill Fire Hall.
The SAR usually has about 30 people on the roster each year and during an average year, answers anywhere between three to five calls to action throughout the year. The worst year, Paulhus recalled, saw seventeen calls.
The SAR can only be dispatched at the request of the police force or EMO, and because of that, Paulhus can’t quite pin down the exact amount of hours required to be a part of the group.
“We usually try and tell people to give us what you can,” said Paulhus.
Mandatory training sessions and exercises do take place throughout the year, along with non-mandatory events. The SAR does most of its work in an educational capacity, through community outreach.
“We do a lot of what we call preventative search and rescue, which is going out into the community and preparing them for in case this or that happens, and how they can best help themselves out,” said Paulhus.
Anyone over the age of 18 is welcome to stop in at the informational session and learn about the SAR. The group asks for a one-time $60 joining fee and a criminal record check prior to acceptance, but by participating in the group’s fundraisers throughout the year, all mandatory training required will be covered.
“Come out, have a listen, see what it's all about. We'll talk about what kind of commitment it is,” said Paulhus.