ATTAWAPISKAT – Canadian Rangers in Attawapiskat were suddenly confronted with a real life-and-death search situation as they were cleaning up their equipment at the conclusion of a major four-day search and rescue training exercise.
Warrant Officer Carl Wolfe, a Canadian Army instructor, who was in Attawapiskat for the training exercise, was approached by a concerned member of the community late on the evening of November 11. He was told a man in his 60s who had driven out of the community on an all-terrain vehicle earlier in the day to cut wood was missing. It was not known where he had gone to get wood.
The missing man was not dressed for the weather, which had dropped to below zero with brisk winds, and had several medical conditions that could cause him distress.
The Rangers set up a command post and sent out search parties in vehicles and on ATVs to look for the man.
After a search of almost two hours they found him more than five kilometres outside Attawapiskat, huddled in light clothing next to a fire with his ATV stuck in slush and mud. The man told the Rangers was unable to free his machine and stayed where he was to await help because he did not think he was fit enough to walk back to the community.
“He stayed where he was when he got stuck and got a fire going, which was smart,”
said Warrant Officer Lonnie Naughton, a training officer at 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group headquarters at Canadian Forces Base Borden. “The Rangers checked his physical condition to be sure he was not a medical emergency. They got his ATV unstuck and they escorted him back to the nursing station on his ATV.
“He was cold and he had a bit of a headache but that was maybe from dehydration. Other than that he was all right.
“The Rangers went straight from a training exercise into the real thing and everything worked out well.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at CFB Borden.)