The group of 18 members and 6 Instructors met at the Kamloops Flying Club on Saturday morning. At the pre-briefing the group was treated to a comprehensive presentation given by Shaun Glass, a retired Canadian Forces Search and Rescue Technician and current volunteer member of the Central Fraser Valley Search & Rescue Team. Our participants came from all over BC and from as far as Alberta and Manitoba.
We were also fortunate to have the support of Dave and Theresa who are BCGA members, pilots and also members of the search and rescue team. We were fortunate to have Canadian Army Veteran Trevor Claus join us for the second time. We were also honoured to have Dwaine and Adrienne with us from Kamloops Search and rescue. They pulled the 1AM-3AM shift and spent the night with us. The location that they picked is the same place that is used to train their new search and rescue members.
The weather was perfect for the exercise. By that we mean that it was cool, crisp and dry for the beginning of the outdoor portion but things turned and it began snowing around 11pm. The exercise concluded in the morning with 4cm on the ground.
Throughout the exercise the instructors made rounds to check on the participants' well being and to give hints and tips as to how to improve their set-up. Instructors worked in shifts throughout the night. The majority of the participants slept with little more than the clothes on their back and an emergency space blanket. The value of the Survival Shakedown is really what you make of it and we were impressed by the number of participants that held true to the minimalist approach.
While the temperatures overnight dropped to a snowy -3C and the participants were a bit chilly, they all found warmth and comfort around their fires which most kept going all night.
This exercise was meant to introduce pilots to the contents of their survival kit and to have them put some thought into the contents of the kit. It was not an episode of survivor man where we withhold, starve and torture the attendees. It is for this reason that as the pilots emerged shortly before sunrise they gathered at the instructor camp to enjoy a snack and hot chocolate in order to warm up some chilly and weary bones.
After a warm drink and a snack the participants were lead in a walk through, where all the attendees as a group visited each and every camp to learn and discuss what went right and what didn't for each individual pilot.
Once the walk through was complete, the group cleaned up and returned the forest to its original state ensuring that all fires were completely extinguished and all shelters were taken down. The group then gathered for a fire extinguisher demonstration which was lead by participant and firefighter Keith. Prizes were awarded for best camp, and most ingenuity followed by the issuing of completion certificates. We are privileged to have the support of Axeman.ca owned by BCGA member Jeremy. He donated a beautiful folding saw as one of the prizes.
The BCGA is very proud and grateful to have had the support of Kamloops Search and Rescue. As a small token of our appreciation, the BCGA donated $780 from the course fees to the volunteer Kamloops Search and Rescue Team.
Lastly, we are very proud of our members that came to the event. Despite pushing their comfort levels not one person complained and every single participant embraced the exercise and truly brought nothing more than their typical survival kit.