The president of the Grande Prairie Technical Search and Rescue Association has been recognized for his long-service on a national level. The awards are normally handed out locally, but when the National Search and Rescue Conference was held in Edmonton last week, they made a few exceptions.
After 17 years as a search and rescue volunteer, Dennis Walker called the moment a highlight of his career.
“Being recognized for the amount of time, it’s something that I don’t often think about. The amount of amazing people I work with in our group here in Grande Prairie… people change but the focus and everything in the group stays the same.”
Walker says he was originally was looking to get into law enforcement, but was drawn to search and rescue instead. Since the beginning of this year alone, he has spent 443 hours in training and incidents, but believes it’s all worth it.
“If I had somebody in my family go missing, I would want a group of extreme, unpaid professionals that this group is out there. When you get trained search and rescue people, amazing things happen.”
The Grande Prairie team of 40 volunteers has more than 2,400 hours combined so far this year. They cover an area that stretches across northwestern Alberta.
“It’s such an amazing group,” says Walker. “These people have full-time work and at a moment’s notice they drop everything to help others. I think it’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”
A small group of volunteers started up the association in 1995 to help out local RCMP after a drowning in Musreau Lake. They are completely donation funded.