Local search and rescue members offer assistance in Australia
Three Central Okanagan Search and Rescue (COSAR) members left Canada Nov. 4 to assist in the search for a missing Canadian in Australia.
Team leader and West Kelowna Fire Department member, Troy Becker, COSAR search manager Brett Millard and GSAR member Matt Jefferson—a newly trained primary care paramedic—have volunteered to aid in the search for Prabhdeep Srawn, a master corporal reservist in the Canadian Army who has been missing in the southern Australian alps, south of Canberra, since May.
The Central Okanagan trio will be in Australia for two weeks, concentrating their search efforts on Mount Kosciuszko and Mount Townsend at 2,228 metres, where Srawn was last known to be.
The local search group will be dropped off in the Australian mountains for eight days with their gear and instructions on where to concentrate their efforts.
According to Becker, the group isn't sure if any resources will be available to them once they're dropped off in the mountains; therefore, they will be equipped to operate self-sufficiently for the entire trip.
"Australia has one of the world's highest concentrations of poisonous snakes and spiders, so it is something we need to be aware of and prepared to deal with in the event of an encounter," said Becker.
Until recently the area was covered in snow, but with the spring thaw occurring, the family has requested the assistance of experienced wilderness search and rescue members from North America.
According to Duane Tresnich, vice president of COSAR, Srawn's family got in contact with COSAR through social media. They are paying for the travel expenses of the three local searchers.
"The family believes he's still alive," said Tresnich.
Tresnich noted the landscape isn't much different than what the local search group is used to dealing with in Canada; however, he said the COSAR members may have the added difficulty of dealing with fatigue from a long flight to Australia.
Becker, Millard and Jefferson have over 25 years of experience in search and rescue operations, with specialized training in wilderness searches, swift water rescue, ice rescue, rope rescue, wilderness survival, as well as wilderness and emergency medical. The three will join other searchers, both local and international.
Agencies in Australia conducted numerous searches using helicopters with thermal imaging and ground units back in May and June; however, they suspended activities due to snow accumulations.
Since then Srawn's family has been privately funding independent search groups to continue search operations. With the summer months fast approaching, the family is hoping Srawn will be located with the aid of experienced mountain searchers from North America.
The local search and rescue volunteers will return Nov. 17.