info@rcmsar2.comPO Box 37146 North Vancouver, BC V7N 4M4

Skills & Drills Night

Monthly Station Skills Training

By Maggie Rayner

It’s Skills and Drills night, every third Tuesday of the month at the RCMSAR-2 station located at Lynwood Marina in North Vancouver. Tonight crew member Darrin Stewart, the coordinator of the Skills and Drills (SAD) training session, has arranged for representatives from Honda Canada Pacific Region to give a technical demonstration on the new Honda portable water pump. Last month training involved first aid demos and equipment familiarization, next month it will be something different.

Skills and Drills night is a monthly specialized training session where all members of SAR-2 to come together and fine tune their skills. Each month 3 or 4 mini training stations are set up to challenge and familiarize our volunteers with tools, equipment, first aid techniques, navigation, standard operational procedures (SOP’s), radio communications, and a myriad of other skills our SAR members are expected to master in order to maintain their operational status.

SAD 2          SAD 3

Unfortunately our actual working conditions during a rescue call-out are never as ideal as the conditions at our station during training, which is why it’s so important to practice and run through situational drills, and practice the proper use of all our rescue equipment over and over again. That way when we’re involved in an actual call, the techniques and procedures become intuitive and second nature. During an emergency every minute counts.

At the end of the evening I chat with Louise Hooymans, one of the SAR-2 volunteers, about the monthly training sessions. “Each Skills and Drills night we cover something different,” she tells me, “The idea of SAD is to practice every-thing that might occur in a rescue operation until it becomes automatic.” Louise goes on to list some of the following scenarios and skills they’ve covered on Tuesday evenings and continue to practice. First aid – assessing a patient at the scene, including intervention and transport decisions, CPR, fire pump operation, fire drills and boat evacuation, man overboard drills, navigation theory, collision regulations (aka call regs.), radio operations and regulations, chart work, GPS – chart plotter, FLIR and radar just to name a few.

SAD 4           SAD 1

During Skills and Drills sessions teamwork is highly emphasized, and the expertise of our individual members is used to conduct the actual training. Those with advanced skills in a particular subject area are encouraged to develop and lead an exercise, and teach and demonstrate those skills to the rest of the team. Through the use of positive reinforcement and encouragement our members are able to achieve the necessary level of proficiency while learning, developing, and mastering their skills. In addition to each individual practicing the required knowledge and skills, the station members are learning to work efficiently and effectively as a team. All the station members have to work, learn and practice together to become capable and confident in their abilities.

Monthly Skills and Drills night is just one more training opportunity that our SAR members are expected to attend. Being an active SAR member means constant training on and off the lifeboat. The expectations are very high, but there’s always a consistent and conscientious effort by our volunteers to meet and exceed those expectations.

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