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Meet the

four legged members

of Campbell River Search and Rescue


Who’s in charge of making sure we’re ready for a disaster?



The Wave is Campbell River’s leading lifestyle magazine.

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MARCH 2017 | ISSUE #21

contents 5 10

meeT THe four legged members

of CaMpbell RiveR SeaRCh and ReSCue

PrePArINg for THe WorsT

Who’S in ChaRge of Making SuRe We’Re Ready foR a diSaSteR?


bAsIC emergeNCY suPPlY KIT


26 WeeKs To emergeNCY PrePAredNess

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n the months following hurricane Katrina, Natasha Provost volunteered to travel south and join in the animal relief efforts. At the time she was working as a veterinary assistant. “I got tasked to go help the disaster dogs, which are the dogs, and the cadaver dogs, that go and look for the bodies,” she says.” I got to look after them when they came in. We would scrub them down because there were so many contaminates, and look after them and make sure they were healthy enough to go out again.” It was during that trip that Provost became interested in becoming a rescue dog handler. The first course she took was geared towards disaster work, but because she had a young son she knew she couldn’t fly all over the world with a rescue dog at the last minute, so she took a clinic with the BC Search Dog Association and joined Campbell River Search and Rescue.



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Daryl Beck and his dog Keeva and Provost and her dog Spirit are two of three air scenting search dog teams on Vancouver Island. Both are based in Campbell River. They are tested and certified annually to work as search and Search rescue K-9 teams and Beck and Provost train all the time. When dogs can the dogs have their collars and vests on they know they are work in areas where other supposed to be working. searchers When they arrive on the scene, whether it be by boat or by have been, and helicopter when necessary, they are assigned a section they can work of land to search and it is their job to clear that section with other search by either finding evidence of the missing person and resources. Using continuing the search in that area or not and moving on scent articles, they to somewhere else. can discriminate for the missing person Just because there is a dog on the scene, that in heavily populated doesn’t mean the search is over, Beck says. “I am areas. They can work day just one more part or our search organization.” or night, in most kinds of weather, and are especially Dogs take the place of manpower. Beck figures effective where human sight a team of two with a dog can search the same is most limited — in the area as a group of 10 people. dark, in dense woods or heavy Keeva and Spirit look for things in the bush brush, in debris (as found that don’t belong, such as a person or an in earthquakes, floods, and tornadoes) and under water. article of clothing. A major part of their training is that they know if the team is travelling in a specific direction, that is where they are supposed to be searching. “We don’t follow the dog, the dog follows our pattern,” Beck says. That being said, just because a family pet can play hide and seek or find their ball in the trees or water, doesn’t mean they are cut out to be a search and rescue dog. “I think the big difference…is that our dogs

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are trained to search in a systematic way and ignore things that aren’t part of the search profile,” Beck says. Provost got Spirit specifically to be a search and rescue dog. The first puppy she brought home didn’t have the motivation to do the job, so Provost returned her to the breeder to be re-homed. “It was a very very hard and emotional decision, after all the time and money that you put in to training,” she says. “But if my child was out there lost I know I would want a dog that I know was going to work.” Beck had a similar experience. He has two dogs of the same breed, Keeva is an amazing search dog and the other is better just as a family pet. That being said, both Spirit and Keeva are pets. They just have a job to do once they don their collar. The dogs aren’t the only ones who need to be certified. The annual test marks the handlers skills just as much as the dogs. The first time Provost tried to get Spirit certified the dog was ready but Provost was not. “We got failed because I made the mistake,” she says. The test course is a 500 metre by 500 metre section of bush where things are planted for the dogs to find. The team has to search for at least an hour and a half to demonstrate their skills. The first time around Spirit found every article in the areas that Provost directed her to, but Provost wasn’t trusting her own skills with the compass and she made her search grid too narrow. After lots of practice she got a handle on it and she has been certified for three years, with her next test coming up this month. So far they have been out on 12 searches, most recently on Denman Island. For Beck, getting certified was bittersweet. “As soon as I was validated that meant I could go on a search and wow, huge pressure,” he said. When he is out in the field he is always anxious to learn where the person was found in the end, and if it was in or near one of his search areas. He had one close call, where, even though the person wasn’t found in his

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search area, it was close enough that he felt he and Keeva should have found them. “That one will always stay with me,” he says. He had to debrief with a friend who reminded him that noone is perfect and that there were other people as well as police dogs on scene. Keeva and Spirit are air scenting dogs. They don’t follow scent on the ground, they look for things that are out of place in the bush. Because of that it is better for them to search when it is cooler out, because as the temperature drops the scent drops closer to the ground as well, Beck says. So if they have a choice of areas they are going to search they might wait for the day to cool off or they might choose a more shaded area. Provost and Beck have also learned to use the wind and read the geography to better utilize their dogs’ noses. When tackling a field they work their way into the wind. If there is a ditch or a ravine they send the dogs to the bottom instead of just walking along the edge. Part of their search and rescue training is to consider what a person lost in the woods would do, so they will send their dogs over to a grove of trees that might seem like a safe place to hunker down. The dogs sometimes have to work for hours and hours on end, but one of the most important parts is ensuring their safety and making sure they can still actually do their job. Spirit cut her paw on a search once, and that was the end of the day for her. “If they aren’t acting like themselves you have to make the decision, is this going to affect the search and if it is, you say no we are done we have to stop,” Provost says. Keeva, at nine years old is nearing the end of her search and rescue career. Beck said this is probably her last year before a kushy retirement as only a house pet. Provost and Spirit are just getting started. Puppies can first be certified at 1.5 years old and some work in the field until they are nine or ten years old. Beck calls Spirit a very high achiever. “Her energy is above and beyond any other search dog,” Provost says. “She is kind of the clown.”

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“ an. 24, 2010,” he says simply. That’s his answer to why he does what he does. That was the day the earthquake hit PortAu-Prince, Haiti. Haiti, he tells me, is where his mom was born and raised. He starts rattling off facts about the history of Haiti like it’s his homeland. He pauses for a second, realizing that’s not really what I’m here to talk about. “Sorry,” he says. “I’ve kinda gone off a bit, but I’ve always just had that connection with it. It was just always there in the background when I was growing up. It was the topic of conversation; it was the news my mom was looking for. It was always, ‘what’s going on in Haiti?’ My grandfather was a pastor there and he formed a church there, and I’ve always just had a really tight connection with it.”

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And so, after business school didn’t work out for him – a long story not exactly relevant to this particular tale – Shaun Koopman was in the waiting area about to board a plane to Australia to bum around a bit, do some surfing, and “find himself,” when he heard the news that Haiti had been rocked by a 7.2 earthquake. “I remember getting on that flight, and being on that plane for 16 or 18 hours and knowing that there’s no building codes, there’s millions of poor, it’s urban slum – it’s one of the worst possible places that could happen. I mean, there are already landslides happening all around it. And I knew this would mean millions of people displaced. This is probably over 100,000 dead. And was I just overwhelmed by helplessness.” And it nagged at him the whole time he was in Australia. So when he came back to Canada he knew what he wanted to do. Or rather, he knew what he didn’t want. He didn’t want to ever feel that helpless again. So he went and got a degree in geography, using that to leverage his way into a master’s degree in disaster management, which is actually something he didn’t know existed. “We’re a very new discipline,” he says. “I honestly didn’t know this was something that someone could do as a career.” He actually found out it was something he could do because he’s kind of a geek. “I’m a comic book fan,” he says. “And I found out that they shot X-Men at Royal Roads, and a friend of mine said, ‘you should check out that school. It actually looks like they have some cool programs.’” So he got a master’s degree in being prepared for an emergency. That can’t be all it takes to be qualified to lead our region’s response team, can it? Well, he’s also got certifications in emergency social services, incident command systems, and emergency operations centres. He’s recruited and supervised staff and volunteers through roles with the Dan Sharrers Aquatic Centre, École Ebenezer in the Dominican Republic, and the Canadian Cancer Society. When you add those roles to his seven years of experience teaching first responder training programs and presenting information campaigns to the public as a Canadian Red Cross first aid instructor and lifesaving society instructor mentor, assisting healthcare workers, teaching first responder skills, developing emergency management promotional materials and creating an interactive hazard analysis map for the 1500 households in the Janta Colony slum in Chandigarh, India, you start to get a picture of what this guy is about. He basically lives emergency preparedness and disaster response. And when you live for emergency preparedness, you naturally also live for information. “I’m a huge fan of data,” Koopman says. “Data influences your opinion and so the better data you have, the better decisions you’re going to make. That’s one of the things this field has

been missing, I think. Incorporating the lessons learned and the data and what we’ve taken from past events and what other people are working on and what did and didn’t work in various circumstances and sharing that knowledge and make it available for everyone. To that end, Koopman spends some of his free time as an editorial assistant and writer for Haznet Magazine, an online magazine about emergency management and disaster response. It’s the only one of its kind in Canada, Koopman says. He and the rest of the Haznet team publish twice a year, and each edition focuses on different themes, whether it’s a specific event – like one last year that focused on High River Alberta and how they responded and recovered from severe flooding in 2013 and the lessons learned from that event or the ways Aboriginal communities participate (and are often the first responders) in severe emergencies. “So what we’re trying to do is take all that knowledge and put it in one spot.” And to take that idea one step further, he’s also working with a

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team of organizers and managers across the nation to create Canada’s first Resilience Index, which would be a huge data bank of emergency information available to anyone with a computer. “There’s a commodification of knowledge,” Koopman admits, “and I think that’s a problem. If you want to download a university article, and you’re not a member of that university with a certain level of access to those things, it’s going to cost you $30 or something. So what we’ve been doing is reaching out to researchers and getting permissions to have their research to compile it into a database of who is doing what.”

Data influences your opinion and so the better data you have, the better decisions you’re going to make

While he says he’s only in the office “about 50 per cent of the time,” and that time is spent mainly performing various “administrative duties” like budgeting and other paperwork. The rest of his time is spent balancing that administrative work with putting on outreach and educational programs, presenting things to various boards, councils and committees, traveling to various areas of the region to work with emergency responders and doing information sessions with private businesses or non-profit organizations who want to learn more about how to be prepared. “I like the outreach aspect of what I do, especially here in Campbell River, because it’s really not that big,” he says. “Very rarely do I go somewhere where there’s not someone who wants to talk to me about this stuff. It doesn’t take long for your name to get around in a community like this and have people start engaging with you.” Between the educational sessions, committee meetings and outreach programs, Koopman says he also meets with all of the emergency response planners on the Island outside the capital region get together for planning sessions about every

But enough about side projects and previous experience. Just what is Koopman doing in his current day-to-day capacity as emergency services coordinator to keep our region safe? Well, there’s no typical day in the life of an emergency response coordinator, but the short answer would be “a lot.”

other month, “to look at the Island as a whole, which is really beneficial. If you’re looking at emergency planning, we need to know that you’re all looking at give or take the same binders and the same forms and that the communication systems are all in place in the event of a major earthquake, for example, because an event like that doesn’t really involve different players depending on where you’re at. The only things that really change from region to region are things like facilities – reception centres and group lodging, that kind of thing – and the contact info.” Another project he’s been working on is collaborating with the Immigrant Welcome Centre, which will see him get the emergency response material given out to the public translated into the variety of different languages present in households within our community. And as much as he likes his job, overall, the best part, he says, is that from day to day, hour to hour, it’s always different.

“I learn something every day,” Koopman says. “There’s a lot to learn in this job, and I don’t think I’ll ever fully have everything. Making mistakes is important. You learn more from mistakes than you do from successes, so I like making mistakes and hitting things from a different angle and making them work, because that means I’m learning.” “It’s also interesting to me just how regional and cultural specific emergency planning is,” he continues. “I mean, I help Campbell River plan and I help Tahsis plan, and it is two totally different scenarios, so I’ve come to realize just how important it is to be adaptable and flexible.” For more on what the Strathcona Regional District is doing in terms of emergency preparedness, follow them on Twitter (@ SEP_EPC), like them on Facebook (just search “Strathcona Emergency Program”) or go online to and look for “Protective Services/Emergency Program” under the “Services” tab. If you’re interested in having Koopman into your organization or business to do an emergency preparation session, contact him directly at

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 WEEK 1. Get a large portable container with a lid to use as an emergency kit, preferably with wheels. Choose an accessible location for the container near an exit and label the container. Make sure all family members know what it will be used for and where it is.  WEEK 2. Stock your kit with at least a seven day supply of water for every family member and your pets. It is best to plan for four litres of water per person, per day—two for drinking and two for food preparation and hygiene. You might consider the addition of water purification tablets.  WEEK 3. Stock your kit with several varieties of packaged foods, canned meats, dried fruit and a manual can opener. If needed, include infant supplies like diapers, bottles, and formula. Plan for at least a seven day supply of food for each family member.  WEEK 4. Arrange an out-of-area phone contact person, and keep this and other emergency phone numbers near each telephone. Teach family members these numbers.  WEEK 5. Add food items and supplies for pets to your kit.  WEEK 6. Get a portable radio and extra batteries for your emergency kit.  WEEK 7. Learn about hazards. Know the hazards in your community. Find out if the area where you live is vulnerable to landslides, flooding, interface fires and do a home hazard hunt to make your home safer. Secure appliances and heavy furniture and move beds away from overhead objects.  WEEK 8. Prepare a first-aid kit that includes prescription medications, eyeglasses, bandages, sterile gauze pads, tape, scissors, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide and other items such as over-the-counter pain pills. [16]


 WEEK 9. Give every family member specific safety tasks to do in an emergency. For example, designate one person to be in charge of turning off electricity, one to provide for those with special health needs, and one to look after pets.  WEEK 10. Identify safe places in your home and on your property. Plan and practice earthquake “drop, cover, hold” or evacuation drills using different escape routes. Know that your community may set up a reception centre for evacuees during an emergency.  WEEK 11. Identify a family meeting place away from home but close to your regular spots (between work and home or school).  WEEK 12. Add a flashlight with batteries, and candles and waterproof matches to your kit.  WEEK 13. Add some dried soups and other items to your emergency kit.  WEEK 14. Check your insurance policies and make records of your possessions.  WEEK 15. Stock your kit with both large and medium-sized plastic garbage bags (orange or yellow make good visible signals). Large bags can also be used as ponchos, ground covers or blankets. Add plastic or paper dishes and cups as well.  WEEK 16. Add a change of clothing for each

toothpaste, comb, and sanitary supplies to your emergency kit.  WEEK 21. Add evaporated, canned or powdered milk to your kit.  WEEK 22. Get a large bucket with a tight-fitting lid to use as a toilet, and put it with your emergency kit. Use the bucket to store other emergency tools like an ax, a folding shovel and rope.  WEEK 23. Add sleeping bags or blankets (foil blankets take up less space) and consider adding plastic emergency ponchos to your kit.  WEEK 24. Add more canned, freeze-dried, or dehydrated food products to your kit until you have at least a three-day supply for each family member.  WEEK 25. Add a pocket knife, cutlery, a whistle and spare set of house and car keys, and items like books, toys and cards. family member to your kit. Be sure to include warm clothing, heavy work gloves and sturdy shoes.  WEEK 17. Add additional canned or freezedried food like stews, tuna fish, baked beans and vegetables to your kit.  WEEK 18. Enroll a family member in a first-aid course. Pack HELP/OK signs in your kit.  WEEK 19. Assemble important documents like wills, insurance papers, medical records, credit card numbers, and identification. Make copies and store originals in a fireproof/ waterproof container that will be accessible if your home is damaged.  WEEK 20. Add personal items such as toilet paper, handi-wipes, soap, detergent, toothbrush,

 WEEK 26. Meet with neighbours to discuss emergency preparations and the possibility of sharing items such as generators. ar Ge kit ! y t ed Safetr your e Gpar lights •ore fo m sh e r Fla lies & • p teries Supp

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n the scene, ambulance paramedics have a truckful of specialized equipment they can use.

Most ambulances have one main stretcher, three spinal immobilization devices, defibrillators, oxygen tanks, diagnostic equipment, thermometers, pulse oximeters, glucometer and blood pressure monitoring. Paramedics provide early intervention to those who are too ill or injured to make their own way to the hospital is that critical. Campbell River paramedics respond to an average of 5,500 calls in a year. The Campbell River ambulance branch has a staff of 41, with nine of those being full-time paramedics and the rest working part-time. A typical schedule for the full-time paramedic is two day shifts, followed by two night shifts and then four days off. Shifts for the part-timers are typically 12 hours long, depending on which of the three ambulances the paramedic is assigned to. The Alpha shift, primarily staffed by full-time paramedics, is the first ambulance called out to an emergency while the second

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ambulance out is the Fox shift – mostly used by the part-time paramedics who are on standby at the station. While the Campbell River unit’s normal response area is Roberts Lake to the north, Strathcona Park Lodge to the west, and south to Hamm Road, paramedics are not bound to one area and are sometimes sent to neighbouring communities to help out when needed. Local paramedics also have a good working relationship with their other emergency services partners. This includes the Campbell River Fire Department, RCMP, Canadian Coastguard, SAR and Oyster River Fire Department. Paramedics also work very well with their closest health care team, the emergency room doctors and nurses at Campbell River Hospital. Anyone who is interested or would like to get involved as a paramedic can visit or call the BC Ambulance Service Careers Help Desk at 1-877-577-2227. ASSISTED LIVING SERVICES FOR THE ELDERLY & HOUSEBOUND • Personal Care - Bathing, Dressing, Shaving • Housekeeping/Meal Preparation • Driving to Hospital or GP Appointments • Shopping & Visits

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he Canadian Coast Guard is probably best known for its role in marine search and rescue. Coast Guard forces, including those stationed in Campbell River, are called upon as first responders in a variety of other areas, including environmental and security response. In addition to its well-known role in marine search and rescue, the Coast Guard is the lead federal agency for all ship-source oil spills and other pollution incidents in Canadian waters. In cases where the polluter is known and takes actions to mitigate the spill, the Coast Guard assumes the role of Federal Monitoring Officer. When the polluter is unknown or unable to respond, the Coast Guard actually assumes overall on-scene command. In this role, the CCG employs a National Support Team that directs human and material resources to a management site; offers international assistance in marine pollution incidents; and provides humanitarian aid in response to either natural or manmade disasters.



Though not directly under the Ministry of Defence — the Canadian Coast Guard is a special operating agency of Fisheries and Oceans Canada — it can also be called on to support marine and coastal security priorities of the federal government. The Canadian Coast Guard provides a variety of other services, including training, to commercial and personal marine craft, ranging from aids to navigation and waterways management to marine communications and traffic services.

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ince its wartime creation in 1942 as an all-volunteer department with a single, downtown hall, Campbell River Fire Rescue has grown to a staff of nearly 75 members and volunteers through two halls, seven fire/rescue vehicles and a dispatch centre that provides services across North Vancouver Island. The Campbell River Fire Department was organized in 1942 and consisted of a volunteer firefighting force and one fire hall (Hall No. 1) located at 10th Avenue and the Island Highway. The department went professional in 1966 with the hiring of its first full-time fire chief, and two years later, in 1968, a

BC Bud Rub

second fire hall (Hall No. 2) was built on Larwood Road in Willow Point. In 1975, the department expanded to full-time coverage, 24/7, at Hall No. 1. In 1978 Hall No. 1 was relocated to its current location at 13th Avenue and Dogwood Street. Campbell River Fire Rescue provides another critical service to residents of the city and surrounding region. A primary purpose for the establishment of fire services in a community is to reduce the fire insurance costs for that community. As a result of the services provided by Campbell River Fire Department, the avoided insurance costs for the citizens of Campbell River are more than $5 million annually.

Campbell River Mirror

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The Royal Canadian Air Force


ay and night, every day of the year, personnel at 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron stand ready to respond to calls for search and rescue (SAR). It’s a diverse team of pilots, SAR Techs, planners, military and civilian aircraft maintainers and support staff whose professionalism is readily apparent to the casual observer.

and rescue technicians. They are highly trained specialists who provide advanced pre-hospital medical care and rescue for aviators, mariners and others in distress in remote or hard-toreach areas.

Each member of the squadron plays a critical role in the neverending state of high-readiness, which by necessity includes training to maintain competencies and acquire new skills.

SAR Techs are land and sea survival experts who specialize in rescue techniques, including Arctic rescue, parachuting, diving, mountain climbing and helicopter rescue.

The primary role of 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, based at CFB Comox, is the provision of aviation resources in support of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Victoria.

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s only dedicated search and rescue helicopter, the rugged CH-149 Cormorant can operate in even the most severe conditions, making it ideal for Canada’s challenging geography and climate.

The territory they cover is vast. The squadron is responsible for a SAR zone stretching from the BC – Washington border to the Arctic, and from the Rocky Mountains to 1,200 km out over the Pacific Ocean. It consists of approximately 920,000 square kilometres of mainly mountainous terrain of Yukon and British Columbia and 560,000 square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean extending to approximately 600 nautical miles offshore, including over 27,000 kilometers of rugged British Columbia coastline. The rugged and often inaccessible terrain, severe weather, and large expanses of sparsely populated areas make the Victoria Search and Rescue Region the most demanding region in the country. The Canadian Armed Forces have approximately 140 search

These men and women are trained to a primary-care paramedic national standard with additional advanced skills.

Powered by three engines, the CH-149 Cormorant has exceptional long-range capability — it can fly for over 1000 kms without refueling. With its ample cargo space and rear-ramp access, the helicopter can carry up to 12 stretchers or a load of 5,000 kg. Because of its shaped rotor blades —strengthened by titanium strips along the leading edge — the CH-149 has superior lift and flight speed, and significantly less vibration than many other helicopters. This advanced system allows the Cormorant to start and stop rotors in very windy conditions — over 50 knots —and also helps provide a stable hover for critical hoisting operations. It is also equipped with a full ice protection system. WAVE MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017


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Special Features - Wave March 2017  


Special Features - Wave March 2017