HASAR group continues to pass expectations
By Shawn Loughlin
After creating the Huron Area Search and Rescue (HASAR), Patrick Armstrong says the group is progressing faster than he anticipated after its first outdoor training day on March 9 at the Hullett Conservation Area.
Armstrong and Adam Seltzer, both officers in the Ontario Provincial Police, co-created HASAR last year to help fill a need in the community that would assist authorities in missing persons cases.
Last August, the group put out a call for volunteers and the response was overwhelming, Armstrong said. The organization has since received its provincial certification, which is far ahead of schedule. Armstrong says the certification process can take up to a year in some cases.
On March 9, HASAR members met between Clinton and Londesborough at the Hullett Conservation Area for their first hands-on, outdoor training session after spending months in the classroom learning theory and practice.
At the training day, Armstrong said the group participated in some basic map and compass work and real-life communications exercises.
The members would be given co-ordinates and then they would have to find their way there with the benefit of just maps and compasses and then radio back to the instructors and find out where they had to go to next.
Everyone grasped the concept pretty quickly, Armstrong said, despite members having varying levels of experiences with maps and compasses. However, everyone found their way around the conservation area and nobody got lost, so he says that’s a positive first day out in the field.
Armstrong says he’s blown away by the quality of volunteers that HASAR has attracted and he thinks that some of the group’s most advanced volunteers will be officially certified by the beginning of April, which is, again, far ahead of schedule.
Armstrong and Seltzer founded the organization last year and introduced the concept to a group of eager volunteers on Aug. 18, 2018 at the Goderich Legion. From there, HASAR took off attracting a number of residents who wanted to help out.
HASAR’s coverage area will stretch from Kincardine in the north to Port Franks in the south and east to Sebringville.
Once the volunteers are certified by the province, they will be able to help local law enforcement in the event of a missing person.
In a previous interview with The Citizen, Armstrong said that qualified search and rescue volunteers can be invaluable during times of emergency when a resident is missing. He said it can extend the reach of emergency services personnel tenfold, freeing up police officers and other emergency personnel to do job civilians aren’t qualified to do, which is crucial in situations where time is a factor.
For more information on HASAR, visit hasar.ca or find it on Facebook.