Manitoulin branch of North Shore Search and Rescue unit being revived

GORE BAY—With great interest shown by volunteers around the Island, the Manitoulin Island unit of the North Shore Search and Rescue (NSSR) is being revived.

“This is not a new unit, we are reviving the old Manitoulin unit as part of the North Shore Search and Rescue unit,” stated Aaron Wright, who along with Mike Addison and Janelle Proulx, hosted an information meeting in Gore Bay, last week.

“There were 17 people at the meeting, not including about a dozen people who expressed interest but were unable to make it last week,” said Mr. Wright. At the meeting Mr. Wright said attendees learned about the NSSR unit coverage area, what it is about and the work it carries out as well as the application process required for new members.

“The NSSR coverage area takes in the area from Blind River to Mattawa and Gogama to Parry Sound, (and all points in between),” said Mr. Wright, noting the NSSR is run by a board of directors.

“The (NSSR) has been around almost 30 years,” said Mr. Wright. He noted that there are several areas of training for each individual unit and a large training session held on a quarterly basis, which all members are encouraged to get to. “There are approximately 70 members of the search and rescue unit, not including the Island component.”

The search and rescue unit, “can be called out for something like a search for a person who has Alzheimers and is missing, a lost hunter, provide security and first aid for events and many other search cases,” explained Mr. Wright. “We are usually called out by the OPP or other police service.”

To become a member of a search and rescue unit one must be over 18 years of age (those 18 years of age can take part in the training, but not be part of a search effort).

“We have our own instruction procedures for a basic search, CPR incident management, emergency response and first response,” continued Mr. Wright.

“Our next step will be to accept new members and have them go through training,” said Mr. Wright. “We will be training twice a month, right now in the Gore Bay area, and as we get more people involved training will take place across the Island.”

At this point, “the majority of the people who are interested in becoming members of the unit are from the Gore Bay area, but I do know members throughout the Island who are interested and do security and first aid for events.”

Volunteers, members are expected to be involved 40 hours a year in the unit, said Mr. Wright. “Every year we do recertification training,” he said, noting that members also need to provide 10 hours of their time each year towards fundraising for the unit. “We fund ourselves, there is no government funding available for the search and rescue unit.”

With the new members of the Manitoulin unit, “we are hoping to have everyone trained by May,” said Mr. Wright. “We are always looking for new members and funding,” he added.