Labrador’s new search and rescue teams aim to respond more quickly in the event of a disaster
Troy Normore is used to helping people in need.
The leader of the L’Anse au Loup Volunteer Fire Brigade took the opportunity to get involved with the newly formed Labrador Straits Search and Rescue in Forteau and is now the team’s coordinator.
“Before, if anyone got lost or whatever the case, the rangers would be called, and only locals with local knowledge to go in,” Normore said.
“This will be a great team in our area to reassure the people of southern Labrador that they have a trained group of people ready for any type of search mission.”
The new Forteau Ground Search and Rescue Team and a matching team in Mary’s Harbor were established this year after a survey of the province’s ground search and rescue resources identified a need for more established teams in Labrador.
The teams were put together after community and RCMP consultation, and Roger Gooby, chief executive of the Newfoundland and Labrador Search And Rescue Association, said they are working to set up a team in Cartwright as well.
“It’s great for us to be able to see the progress that’s taking place and we look forward to working with these groups in the future,” said Gooby.
Normore said his team has about 22 applicants and 14 members so far at a training workshop last week. They’re working on sorting their records with the RCMP so they can start searching.
He said two events — the disappearance of 14-year-old Burton Winters on the ice near Makkovik and the disappearance of two fishermen off the coast of Mary’s Harbor — influenced him. Burton’s body was recovered while fishermen were lost and family members raised concerns about a lack of support and coordination from search and rescue teams.
“Obviously it wasn’t good to see these people missing and not having the appropriate training resources in the area to look for these people or help others,” Normore said. He said he thinks the tragedies too
“It’s definitely up to the government to finally realize that this team is needed in this area,” he said. “I hope they will continue to support us in our efforts and help us in any way they can.”
The Forteau group is looking for a place to store its search and rescue equipment and loaders, Normore said. They will complete ice rescue training with Labrador Southeast Coast Search and Rescue in Mary’s Harbor in April.
Because of Labrador’s geographic location, it hasn’t been easy to provide training in every community, Gooby said. Gooby said they’re also struggling to get enough people on the Cartwright team, he said.
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