P.A. North Search and Rescue sets out new priorities

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Matt Gardner
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Prince Albert North Search and Rescue member Sonnet McGuire was elected the group’s new secretary at their annual general meeting on Monday evening, while Joel Perreault was re-elected president.

Prince Albert North Search and Rescue (PANSAR) plans to emphasize training, public education and recruitment in the coming year following the election of a new executive.

The election was one of many items on the agenda at the group’s annual general meeting, which took place on Monday at the Prince Albert Fire Hall.

“We want to be more active in training -- training our members, continuous training,” president Joel Perreault said.

“We’re going to probably supply more on the preventative side as far as public education, and continually recruit new members to join by advertising and word of mouth.”

Perreault’s fellow board members re-elected him as president at the meeting following a successful first year in the position, which he described as “a learning curve” and “very educational.”

At the outset of his first term in 2013, Perreault named fundraising and increasing the organization’s profile as his top priorities.

One year later, he believes PANSAR has taken positive steps forward on both fronts.

“I think we’ve been involved,” Perreault said. “We’ve talked to community organizations, (getting) our name out there more and (in) more surrounding communities.

“People are aware that we exist, so that if a child or a person goes missing or they require assistance, they know that we’re here and we’re available to respond.”

Along with Perreault, the majority of the executive membership remained the same following the election.

While vice-president Blaine Hewitt and treasurer Bob Smith will remain in their current positions, director Sonnet McGuire made the leap to the executive and will serve as the group’s new secretary.

Perreault noted that PANSAR has a membership base of approximately 12 volunteers, with some significant strides made since the group’s last annual general meeting.

“In the last year, we’ve recruited three new members,” Perreault said.

“We have a dedicated core of individuals that come all the time. But always we need to expand, because one day there will be a search -- and the more boots on the ground, the better the outcome.”

PANSAR is a chapter of the Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers (SARSAV), which was formed after young Ashley Krestianson lost her way -- and tragically, her life -- south of Tisdale in 1994.

Prince Albert volunteers have been fortunate enough to not have their services required as of yet, making preventative search and rescue a major focus for the group.

Always we need to expand, because one day there will be a search -- and the more boots on the ground, the better the outcome. Joel Perreault

“We have to remember why this group was created,” Perreault said, noting that members wear Ashley’s initials on their badges as a reminder.

“If we can prevent that (kind of incident through) preventative search and rescue and put a strong emphasis on that, then that will hopefully never happen again.”

Another tactic of PANSAR has been to forge closer links with other community organizations.

During the discussion of new business, Perreault recounted attending the North Central Mutual Aid Association meeting on Jan. 19, which allowed groups to collectively determine the equipment and manpower at their disposal in the event of a major crisis.

Representatives of the Prince Albert Police Service, the RM of Buckland, P.A. Co-op and Red Cross also attended the event, which Perreault noted helped bring greater attention to PANSAR.

Various motions were also the subject of debate at Monday’s PANSAR meeting.

Among the motions that passed was a requirement that members comply with provincial standards necessitating criminal record checks and vulnerable sector clearance every three years.

Another point of discussion was the group’s need for new storage space for its equipment, which includes tools, training materials, uniforms and other items.

“We would like a trailer so that if required, we could bring that stuff right to the scene with us immediately, as opposed to loading them into somebody’s personal vehicle and hauling it out to the scene,” Perreault said.

In general, the group plans to adopt a “steady as she goes” approach going forward characterized by continuous training.

“One day we’ll be called upon and we want to be able to help -- and we will be able to help,” Perreault said.

He added that financial donations to the group are always greatly appreciated.

The Prince Albert chapter can be reached at www.sarsav.ca.

See also:

P.A. North Search and Rescue holds annual general meeting

Organizations: Prince Albert, Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers, SARSAV North Central Mutual Aid Association P.A. Co-op Red Cross

Geographic location: Tisdale

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