The Red Deer Airport hosted a Western Canada Search and Rescue exercise over the weekend, but plans to fly were cut short due to poor visibility from the smoke.
Despite the weather, crews from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta all came to the airport to take part in the event put on by the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) Red Deer zone.
Jim Thoreson, Red Deer zone training officer, said the weekend event was all about practice and coordination between zones and provinces.
“We train and we work on finding the missing person,” he said. “It is as simple as that. If a plane goes down, someone could be laying there hurt. It is our responsibility to get out there as soon as possible.”
According to Thoreson, if visibility was hindered in an actual missing persons situation, they would do their best to get the aircraft off the ground, while still ensuring the safety of the search and rescue crews.
“We would push it as much as we could when we know that someone is laying there hurt,” he said.
Dennis Smith, Red Deer Zone Commander, said the original plan before the weather delayed take off was to have the crews respond to simulated crashes near Sundre and Stettler. There is also 16 other targets that the crews could have responded to.
“If the planes fly, they will hone in on the beacon, land, do a first on-scene and then treat the simulated wounded. They then return and are judged on how they approach the scene and their first-aid technique,” Smith said.
Smith said the training missions teach all the crews to work together.
“Alberta has six zones and we try to get our training as close to each other as we can. Different provinces can have a little different methods, so it’s really important that we can train to work all together,” he said.
He added the crews are practicing their ground training, which is also a crucial part of a search and rescue mission.
“We could take a vehicle and find them on foot if needed,” he said.