Nfld. & Labrador

SAR crews drop from the sky, train in Labrador

Technicians dropped from the sky over Labrador this week to practice life-saving skills, during a national search and rescue training session.
Search and rescue technicians were in Labrador for a training exercise in competition. Crews worked on their life-saving skills, with some help from actors at a mock crash site in the woods outside Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (CBC)

Technicians dropped from the sky over Labrador to practice life-saving skills, during a national search and rescue training session and competition.

About 250 personnel travelled to the military base in Happy-Valley Goose Bay this week, to train in parachuting over land and sea.

Trainees also responded to mock emergencies, including sinking boats and plane crashes.

Search and rescue technician Anthony Vail said while it's a high-stakes job, he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I like jumping [parachuting]. I've been looking into what I might do next, and it's pretty difficult to find a job that's going to provide the same entertainment that this one does, you know?" said Vail.

"I think sitting at a desk would make me want to poke my eyes out with pencils."

Master Cpl. Nick Nissen said trainees have to measure air and wind currents as they drop supplies to actors playing stranded victims.

"When you're in a helicopter you can come right onto the ground, but in an airplane you can't — there's nowhere to land here, we're an open field, so the only option is to throw your equipment in, via parachute, and then insert yourself via parachute, as well."

However, Nissen said the event isn't just about perfecting search and rescue skills — it's also a competition between different units to help keep them on their toes.

"The crews have been training for quite a while in order to be top-notch ready to go for this event and everyone is competing, so it's really an opportunity to hone our skills through competition so that we're ready to go when this actually happens in real life," said Nissen.

The demonstration and exercises continues through Saturday.