News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

February 9, 2012


Manitoba's USAR Team Training for Any and All Emergencies: Howard

Members of Manitoba’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team will participate in a major provincial training exercise in Winnipeg from this evening until Saturday at the former James A. Richardson International Airport terminal building, Family Services and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard, minister responsible for the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC), said today.

“The USAR team is constantly working to keep their skills sharp and the chance to put them to the test in a large-scale operation will pay huge dividends in the event of a real emergency,” said Howard.  “The OFC organizes these exercises on a regular basis to keep the team up to date on skills and the latest practices so they are ready to be called into action at any time.”

The former airport terminal is slated for demolition and will become the exercise area.  This exercise is designed to be as realistic as possible, with volunteers called in from around the province.  K-9 dog teams and specialized search equipment like cameras and listening devices will be put to the test as the team trains to locate trapped and buried people in a simulated rubble pile.

The USAR team will remain on site in a self-contained camp and command post that will include all‑season tents, water and galley supplies.  The camp also features an environmentally friendly power system, computer-aided search tools and satellite communications systems. 

“We appreciate the Winnipeg Airports Authority offer to let us put our team and equipment through the paces at the old terminal building,” said Dave Schafer, Manitoba’s acting fire commissioner.  “Manitoba’s Urban Search and Rescue team members will test themselves and their ability to rescue people from a simulated building collapse, as well as a number of other specialized training exercises.”

Members of the travelling public are reminded there will be considerable activity involving emergency vehicles at the abandoned terminal.

The OFC co-ordinates the 100-plus-member USAR team in Manitoba, made up of emergency‑response professionals from municipal, provincial and federal services.  The Manitoba USAR team can be mobilized within hours and has the capacity to be self-sustaining for up to 10 days in any weather anywhere in the country.  It’s expected that about 100 team members will take part in this exercise. 

Although this is a Manitoba exercise, there are four other Canadian USAR teams in place.  The teams were formed shortly after the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.  Teams are based in Vancouver, Alberta, Manitoba, Toronto, and Halifax and receive funding support from the Government of Canada.


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