Our members meet twice a month to work on developing and maintaining technical and SAR team skills. While some of our training is aimed at providing new members with fundamental skills (e.g. map and compass, search procedures, avalanche rescue), these monthly exercises are invaluable for all of our members.

Our more experienced members (e.g. outdoor professionals, search managers and avalanche technicians) enrich these exercises with their knowledge and experience, and we all learn to work together as effective SAR teams.

Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) certification
The intent of this course is to provide the participants with the skills necessary to safely and efficiently function in a SAR operation. The course examines:
– SAR in BC
– search initiation
– search progression
– search termination
– map and compass
– survival
– communications
– rope management
– orientation to tracking
– helicopter safety
– evacuation
– initial response searches
– sweep searches
– closed grid searches
– shoreline searches and safety

Several Nelson Search and Rescue members are certified as GSAR Instructors, and this makes it easier for us to provide our membership with the necessary training. The original PEP course is designed as 75 hours of instruction that can be broken into numerous modules.
NSAR wants to make this training program available to our members in an efficientmanner. Rather than running weekly classroom and weekend field sessions as we have in the past, we are combining GSAR certification with our monthly training exercises. This strategy will keep our team proficient with GSAR skills and make the new, mandatory GSAR certification accessible to more of our membership. Members needing to complete the GSAR course can obtain course materials from NSAR, and complete field portions and written exams throughout the year.

Successful completion of the GSAR course consists of three written modules, one written final exam, several technical skill field exercises, and a final field evaluation.

Other Courses
The GSAR course is an example of a courses available through the Provincial Emergency Program. Participation in these courses is free to selected Search and Rescue volunteers. However, space for these courses is limited and there may also be associated travel and other costs (such as gas, food, accommodation, equipment purchases, etc…). While NSAR offers a nominal travel allowance for PEP courses, members taking these courses assume responsibility for any additional expenses.

Other PEP courses include:
– Track Aware
– Ground Search Team Leader
– Rope Rescue Team Member
– Rope Rescue Team Leader
– Search and Rescue Management
– Swiftwater Rescue Technician
– Organized Avalanche Rescue Team Member
– Organized Avalanche Rescue Team Leader

Local SAR groups, such as Nelson Search and Rescue, can recommend individuals from their membership to take any of these courses. There are often requirements for each course (GSAR is almost always required), and selection is based on space availability, dedication, and aptitude of the member, and other factors.