Weekend Training Adventure: Equipping Our Community with Essential Survival Skills

This past weekend, our dedicated students embarked on an intense and rewarding training program designed to equip them with essential survival skills. Throughout the course, participants learned a variety of crucial techniques, including basic tracking, survival skills, map reading, and wilderness first aid. These skills are not just theoretical but vital for real-life scenarios, particularly in the unpredictable environment of the wilderness.

On Sunday, the training reached its peak with a realistic lost persons exercise involving three missing individuals. This exercise provided an invaluable opportunity for participants to apply their newly acquired skills in a controlled but realistic setting. Working alongside the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office FL bloodhound team, our students engaged in the search and rescue operations to locate the missing individuals. This collaboration offered a unique, hands-on experience with professional search and rescue teams, highlighting the importance of teamwork and communication in emergency situations.

After locating the victims, the participants then transitioned to working with the Skyline Fire Rescue and Munson Volunteer Fire and Rescue District team. They assessed the patients’ injuries and prepared them for transport. The exercise included setting up a landing zone for a patient transport, which was unfortunately canceled due to weather conditions. This scenario underscored the unpredictability and adaptability required in emergency responses.

A significant part of the training involved learning how to package patients for transport. Firefighters from Skyline demonstrated and trained CERT team members on using various equipment, such as backboards, stokes baskets, and SKEDs. Participants learned how to load patients onto a UTV for transportation out of the woods and practiced low-angle rope rescues. The training also included low light search techniques, enhancing the participants’ ability to operate in challenging conditions.

This weekend was not only about learning but also about experiencing the complexities of search and rescue operations. It showcased the collaborative efforts required from various emergency services, including the critical support from the Santa Rosa County Emergency Management 911 communications team, which helped make the exercise feel authentic.

Overall, this training provided a comprehensive look at what it takes to locate lost persons in the wilderness, assess and treat their injuries, and ensure their safe transport. It was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to the community the intricate and demanding nature of search and rescue missions. The dedication and performance of everyone involved were truly commendable. Through such initiatives, we continue to build a community that is better prepared for emergencies and more resilient in the face of adversity.