Note from a grateful hiker
The National Search and Rescue Secretariat received a copy of this note that was sent to the Kananaskis Country Public Safety Services. It is published here with permission from the author.
Words can not express the gratitude I feel towards the search and rescue pilots and spotter who flew far around the Kananaskis Lakes area and even venturing into BC, combing the mountain forest trails trying to spot Hillary and I. Hillary and myself along with our friend, Hugh Magill, who was rescued from being stranded in Radium, BC to help with the search, are every search and rescue personís worst nightmare.
I would like to deeply apologize for the following steps that we did which made your jobs far more difficult and challenging. After all you were trying to help and save our lives. We certainly did not help you to find us.
First, we ventured out unprepared onto an unknown and technically difficult unmarked trail, then we failed to stay put, we split up creating a need for 2 search and rescue operations and we continued to travel large distances while crossing rivers and tributaries. What possessed us to behave so stupidly? We never once made a plan, even after surviving the night in the forest. My father spent many years flying search and rescue helicopters. I know the first place trained rescuers will look for missing people is at the last place they were spotted. We should thus have stayed put once we found the unique blue cabin (The blue Tippary Hut). Then, the rescuers will search in circles that gradually expand out trying to predict where people would most likely travel. Not only did the 3 of us travel ridiculously far distances, but we crossed rivers and tributaries making our path impossible to predict. It truly took a miracle for all three of us to have been found alive and almost completely unharmed.
I shall live with the guilt of how difficult we made your search and rescue mission. I canít apologize enough for our stupidity and our stubbornness. I promise that I will learn from this experience, I will be much more prepared whenever I head out on mountain/forest trails and I will value my own life more.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart and soul for the time and effort you devoted into successfully saving the lives of myself and my two fellow hikers, Hillary and Hugh! You are all Guardian Angels who deserve an eternity of joy and love.
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Spotlight On: Canadian Rangers
The Canadian Rangers are set to take a more prominent role in search and rescue in the north. Currently, ground rescue efforts are the responsibility of the RCMP. However, Rangers assist by providing bush expertise on many searches because of their familiarity with the region.
Members are part-time reservists who provide a military presence in remote and isolated areas of Canada. Duties include watching for and reporting any unusual activities as well as providing local expertise for members of the Canadian Forces.
Rangers are trained in search and rescue techniques, map reading and first aid to provide support to the RCMP. They will also be trained to lead searches on their own.
With 58 patrols, Rangers in northern Canada have the greatest number of patrols of all the Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups. The Pacific West Coast and Prairies follow with 38 patrols.
Orientation includes training in first air, search and rescue, and navigation and rifle training. They may also train in evacuation planning, sovereignty patrols, and major air disaster assistance.
Rangers can be found in 163 remote, isolated and coastal communities. The 4,200 Rangers are expected to increase to 4,800 by early 2008.
Andrea Fournier was a co-op student at the National Search and Rescue Secretariat in spring 2006.
New Standards Approved for Personal Locator Beacons
With the recent change in the Canadian beacon standard approved by the National Search and Rescue Secretariat, consumers will soon have a more affordable personal locator beacon (PLB) option.
Class 2 PLBs are now allowed in Canada and can be registered in the Canadian Beacon Registry Database. Although Canadian companies may have manufactured these beacons before, none were made with a Canadian code.
What's the difference?
Before this standard change, PLB users wanting a less expensive option would purchase and register Class 2 beacons in the United States (or from any country with a Class 2 PLB manufacturer) and use them in Canada. This meant a possible delay in rescue efforts when an alert from one of these beacons was received because the emergency information was contained in another countryís database.
Class 1 beacons, though able to operate for 24 hours at minus 40 degree weather and float in fresh water, are heavier and more expensive than Class 2 beacons.
Class 2 beacons, which are required to operate for 24 hours at minus 20 degree weather and are not required to float, must go through a four-step certification process in order to be approved for sale in Canada.
Firstly, the beacon must meet COSPAS-SARSAT approval standards. Secondly, it is tested by Industry Canada to meet radio standards specifications. Thirdly, the beacon must be approved the National Search and Rescue Secretariat, which is the authority for the PLB performance standard. Finally, the beacon is then sent to Transport Canada for approval to ensure the other three standards are met and the beacon meets all Canadian radio standards.
With this change, Canadians will have more access to affordable beacons, however, they are urged to consider the environment they will be traveling in when they choose which class of beacon to bring.