Rangers dive into icy waters for Search and Rescue training

Ice water rescue
Soldiers haul a simulated victim and his rescuer from broken ice. Photo: Sergeant Peter Moon, Canadian Rangers

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By Sergeant Peter Moon, 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group

Instructors and soldiers from the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (3 CRPG) took part in search and rescue training near Parry Sound in Northern Ontario, which included diving into ice cold waters in simulated scenarios.

The training consisted of three days of concentrated instruction in a classroom setting in addition to practical rescue scenarios. The trainees took turns playing the role of victims and rescuers. They wore immersion suits for protection against the cold.

“We do it so that we will have in-depth knowledge of the skills required, so that we can pass it on to the Rangers in the North,” said Major Douglas Ferguson, 3 CRPG’s deputy commanding officer. “In turn, the Rangers pass it on to others in their communities.”

The training was the first of its kind for Sergeant Eric Scott, a new 3 CRPG instructor. “The training is unique in that not a lot of either regular force or reserve members of the army ever get an opportunity to do it,” he said. “The training is eye opening. I’m definitely better prepared now for an ice rescue emergency when I go north.”

Steve Ruskay, an ice rescue expert with Raven Rescue, provides various forms of rescue training to a variety of students in Canada. He says the soldiers’ approach to the demanding training impressed him.

“They are different,” he said, adding: “They can manage themselves in cold or inclement weather. They have a really unique sense of team work and camaraderie. We know through anecdotal evidence that the rates of ice incidents are much higher in the North where these soldiers go. Indigenous peoples are the ones hunting and trapping on those frozen waterways up there that are critical to their livelihoods. They do not have access to this kind of training, which the Ranger instructors take with them and teach up North. So I think the Ranger program is having a huge impact right across the North.”

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