Badlands Search and Rescue seeking new recruits

Badlands Search and Rescue are once again hosting spring recruiting sessions for those potentially interested in becoming a volunteer.

Founder and President, Scott Campbell, said the sessions will be an opportunity for folks to learn about the organization and what the commitment requirement would look like in order to get involved.

“It is not just going out and walking around randomly. It is actually professional level training. We run our members through a search and rescue basics course and do ongoing training throughout the year,” he said. “We do everything from navigation to search techniques, first aid, communications, survival skills, and a whole list of things that I just wouldn’t be able to touch on everything.”

Campbell described Wheatland County as a “low frequency but high-risk area,” referring to the low number of situations which require a search and rescue team, but high urgency when it does happen.

Some of the primary concerns local search and rescue address are topographical, being that somebody may not know they are lost or do not know how to navigate the area, or regarding a person’s mental health.

“It’s the people who don’t know they’re lost that we typically look for, or people who don’t want to be found,” he explained. “These are people with dementia, on the Alzheimer’s related spectrum, young children who may not realize they are lost, or people who are maybe going through a rough patch in their life and do not want to be found – in some cases who are potentially suicidal.”

During a search, Badlands Search and Rescue may assist local RCMP typically with locating evidence, or assisting with a missing persons case for which human remains have been found in a specific area.

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Campbell added Badlands Search and Rescue saw a number of their members step away from volunteering, and the team is now trying to rebuild their numbers.

“Unfortunately, that is the norm for a lot of the teams,” he said. “Normally, we have people for about five or six years, but we are trying to increase that to 10 years.”

Pandemic aside, he explained member loss tends to occur when people move away or otherwise have significant life developments.

Volunteering with the Badlands Search and Rescue also comes with a tax credit incentive which is eligible to be noted on anyone’s income tax, similar to that of a volunteer firefighter, and the training sessions are free to attend.

Recruitment events for Badlands Search and Rescue are scheduled to take place in Strathmore at the Fire Station on March 11, March 25 and March 30 from 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times