November 07, 2013 - 1:29 PM
CENTRAL OKANAGAN - Three search and rescue members from the Okanagan left for Australia Nov. 4 to help locate a Canadian who went missing in a rugged area known as Snowy Mountains in mid-May.
Team leader Troy Becker of the West Kelowna Fire Department, along with COSAR Search manager Brett Millard and GSAR member Matt Jefferson have volunteered to aid in the search for Prabdheep Srawn, a Master Corporal Reservist in the Canadian Army who has been missing in the Southern Australian Alps, south of Canberra.
The three members from the Central Okanagan have over 25 years’ experience in SAR operations with specialized training in wilderness searches, swiftwater rescue, ice rescue, rope rescue, wilderness survival, wilderness and emergency medical. They will join other searchers, both local and international.
COSAR Search Manager Rob Braun said agencies in Australia conducted numerous searches using helicopters equipped with thermal imaging, and ground units of the area back in May and June, but suspended activities due to inclement weather.
The Family of Srawn has been privately funding independent groups to continue with search operations. With the summer months fast approaching, the family is hoping that Prabdheep will be located with the aid of experienced mountain searchers from North America.
The Central Okanagan-based search group will be dropped off with their gear and instructions on where to concentrate their efforts in the Australian mountains for 8 days.
Becker said they aren't sure what if any resources will be available to them once dropped off in the mountains, therefore we 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.
Each volunteer member of the team had to coordinate work schedules within the last week in order to bring the team together in time, which is only possible with the support of employers and families, Braun points out.
Becker a West Kelowna Firefighter has the support of Fire Chief Wayne Schnitzler and fellow firefighters who step up to help Becker in adapting his holidays to afford him the time to volunteer when possible in such situations. Becker points out that volunteering is a major part of the firefighter brotherhood and something we all enjoy and without the support of employers and fellow firefighters it wouldn't be possible.
The group hopes their efforts will help bring closure to the Srawn family.
The group returns from their deployment Nov. 17.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013