Updated advice on search and rescue team activities

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SOUTH HURON – The Board received an update at its December 20 meeting about Huron and Area Search and Rescue (HASAR), a group of professionally trained volunteers who provided assistance with search and rescue. rescue since 2018.

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HASAR co-founder Patrick Armstrong spoke about the nonprofit group that started with a steering committee in 2018. Its members, 19 percent of whom are from the South Huron area, help missing and lost people, rescues , natural disasters. HASAR members are also trained in technical rope, whitewater and ice rescue.

HASAR provides the only technical rope rescue in Huron County. He is also the Canadian Coast Guard’s only auxiliary in Huron, Armstrong said.

HASAR has a canine unit with two dogs that have received OPP training.

Armstrong spoke about some of the calls HASAR responded to, including the March 2019 floods in Ottawa.

During the pandemic, HASAR helped One Care by delivering meals as part of the Meals on Wheels program.

“In some cases we were six volunteers a day, five days a week,” Armstrong said of HASAR’s work with One Care. Armstrong said of all the volunteer groups he’s been involved with, “Meals on Wheels is by far the most important and impactful I have ever had. In some cases, he said volunteers were some people’s only social contacts during COVID, and three HASAR members called for medical emergencies that otherwise would not have been called if they hadn’t. was there.

HASAR owns a number of assets, including a 2011 GMC stretch body truck that serves as its mobile command center. It also has an 18-foot trailer, an amphibious multipurpose vehicle, an operations and command vehicle, as well as a maritime unit which will conduct patrols in the Grand Bend area this summer.

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In addition to some of its members coming from southern Huronia, Armstrong said another local connection was at the Morrison Dam, east of Exeter, where HASAR held a number of drills. coaching. As previously reported, HASAR hosted an event in March where it provided families with basic survival skills and fun in the great outdoors. HASAR volunteers were on hand to guide participants through several educational and fun stations along the trail.

“We have a real connection with South Huron,” Armstrong said.

Branding is also important to HASAR, Armstrong said, and members have uniforms and a professional image.

“We have found that because we look professional and act professionally and our members are professionally trained, people want to have us at their events. “

Questioned by the Council. Marissa Vaughan, Armstrong, said HASAR covers the area from Port Franks south to Kincardine to the north and east to Sebringville. He said the group is trying to organize training sessions throughout its catchment area so that members become familiar with the territory.

Vaughan asked who contacted HASAR in an emergency. For searches, Armstrong said the OPP will contact HASAR, while fire departments will contact HASAR for rescues. HASAR members are available 24 hours a day.

Com. Dianne Faubert asked if HASAR ever announced where he would practice so that members of the public could watch from a safe distance. Armstrong said the group always informs police about their activities and posts on social media where they will be so people aren’t alarmed.

HASAR is self-funded and is a member of the Ontario Search and Rescue Volunteer Association and has a memorandum of understanding with the OPP.

For more information on the group, visit hasar.ca.

Brandon D. James