“Search and Rescue groups are like your seat belt…….you hope you never really need them…but should you…they are a life saver!” – Cpl. Kevin Krebs
Two young men, Dallas Simons and Everett Westerneng left Camrose the evening of May 19th, 2012 to enjoy a pastime they both enjoyed; fishing on Coal Lake, just east of Wetaskiwin. They did not return. Nine long days later the bodies of the two men were recovered the morning of Monday, May 28 in the south west area of the lake. Corporal Kevin Krebs of the Wetaskiwin RCMP reported, “The cause of the accident was suspected that the boat over turned throwing the two men into the water. Neither was wearing a life jacket. The water temperature was 9 C in which it takes a very short period of time to succumb to hypothermia. Both families were devastated.”
In-between the time the men were reported missing and until their bodies were recovered, an extensive search of the lake was conducted by an RCMP helicopter and Wetaskiwin Search and Rescue team along with the RCMP dog team and friends and family. The family members maintained a vigil at the boat launch hoping each day for a successful rescue mission.
Almost a year has passed since this incident but the efforts of the Search and Rescue team are not forgotten. On April 16, 2013, Corporal Kevin Krebs, RCMP presented Bill Heise the Research and Development officer for Wetaskiwin Search and Rescue Society with a cheque for $1000. Corporal Krebs explained, “The Simons family (B&D Simons Trucking) from the Camrose area were so appreciative of the efforts of the volunteers, in particular the Wetaskiwin Search and Rescue Society they donated a cheque to them for $1000 in memory of their son Dallas Simons.” The money will be used by the Search and Rescue Society for training and to purchase equipment.
The Wetaskiwin Search and Rescue team works with the RCMP to provide services in the event of emergencies such as this. Corporal Krebs speaks very highly of the SAR groups. “They are a valuable part of every community. These are dedicated groups of volunteers who believe in a cause and that is to ‘aid in the search and rescue of people in distress’. Often these people go unnoticed and do not get the credit they deserve. During times of searches often other agencies are paid and taken care of by the companies they work for. These folks are volunteers and depend on donations and generosity in order to get the job done. The SAR volunteers are regular folks who take time out of their personal lives to train and educate themselves in the SAR techniques and equipment. Some are required to take unpaid leave from their regular employment in order to attend the training and the search call outs. Sometimes searches can go on for extended periods of times making the hardships these folks undergo all the more amazing.”
Not all areas have SAR groups and usually several will "team" up in order to assist at a required scene. SAR groups normally work under the direction of the RCMP search manager – often this is a partnership that depends on each other.
All members of SAR take a 60-hour basic course covering search theory, the incident command system and basic survival. Members also take an eight-hour navigation course together with Standard First Aid and Level B CPR. They continue to take training throughout the year that is essential to maintaining skill levels.
Following every search and rescue operation and training exercise, the Team undergoes a critical debriefing to discover what they did well, what could be improved and how they can be better prepared for the next incident. And that is why Cpl. Kevin Krebs says, “Search and Rescue groups are like your seat belt…….you hope you never really need them….but should you…they are a life saver!”