Scott Spencer (in blue) plays the role of distraught son as he talks about his imaginary missing father to members of Nelson Search and Rescue and Nelson Fire Services. Spencer

Mock search held in Nelson’s urban area

A training program had members of search and rescue and the fire department looking for a missing man in residential areas.

At first glance it appeared to be a serious incident. Nelson Search and Rescue (SAR), along with the Nelson Fire Department, were gathered together in the Safeway parking lot on Wednesday night.

As a civilian paced back and forth talking about his missing father, the rescue workers were planning and preparing to search the streets on the chilly night.

But no one was actually missing.

Nelson SAR held an urban search practice in order to train for what could eventually be the real thing. Participants had to make the event as real as possible.

The frantic man, searching for his missing dad, was actually Scott Spencer, a SAR training officer that came up with the scenario.

“The purpose of the exercise is to give our members practice searching in urban areas, “explained Spencer. “The majority of our experience in call outs are in the wilderness.”

But he said from time to time the squad is called upon by the city police to search in areas that are more populated.

“Usually it for subjects who have wandered away, children, seniors with Alzheimer’s or people with mental health issues, and it’s a very different environment for our people to search in,” said Spencer.

On Wednesday, the scenario was an elderly man, suspected to have Alzheimer’s, has gone missing from Anderson Gardens.  The SAR workers had to treat the situation as a real crisis, deploying search teams, creating search areas and getting bits of information from the police and the public to try and find the missing man.

“They need the experience of what it’s like to interact with the public, to search in backyards and underneath canoes or in garages, stuff they don’t deal with in the wilderness.”

Spencer went as far as to create tips, some accurate, but most completely false, that the rescuers will have to sort through in order to find the missing man.

“Lots of tips come in during a real search and many point you in the wrong direction.”

He said they will have to put the puzzle together if they hope to successfully complete the practice.

“There is actually a real person that is out there, in a bath robe, that is probably really cold right now, that they have to find.”

The searchers were successful in their task as they found him in Gyro park at 8:45 p.m. It took about 90 minutes to find him.



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