Training with the Canadian Rangers
The following report comes from Sergeant P. Brandson, a Calgary Highlander currently serving as a Ranger Instructor with B.C. Company, 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, Victoria, British Columbia. The Canadian Rangers have received some prominent press coverage in recent years, but have been a part of Canada's defence team dating back to their roots with the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers in the Second World War.
In 2011 I moved to Victoria to take a contract with the Canadian Rangers. It was a little scary leaving Calgary after seven years with the Calgary Highlanders, especially since I didnít know much about what the Rangers are or what they do. The rangers have kept me busier than Iíve ever been in the military but since coming to the Rangers Iíve had the time of my life. Most of my job revolves around supporting training for the Rangers both here in Victoria and out in the communities.
Last march we did a multi-patrol exercise in Tumbler Ridge, right in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The snow was really deep that year and a lot of the sleds got stuck; only the powerful mountain sleds could get into a lot of the areas we were working in, and we had a great time getting there. Once we got out into the mountains we did some excellent avalanche rescue training and some really good winter survival training as well.
The Survival training was primarily preparation leading into the wilderness survival course.
Every year the rangers run a week long survival course for Regular Force and reserve soldiers to learn the basics of surviving in the bush, this year we took them out onto the east beach near Masset to give them a wetter experience than the usual winter survival. They spent the first two days of the course learning shelter building and trying to start fires with wet wood, as well as how to set snares and skin animals. After that we sent them out in pairs to survive on the beach for three nights. The first night was the worst by far, the wind gusted well over 100km and the rain turned to sleet and hail as the temperature dropped through the night, which lasted close to 16 hours because of how far north we were. The storm had all but broken by morning and almost everyone lasted it out. By the end of the exercise some of the troops were set up better than the staff, with stoves built and shelters that were better protection than most tents!
This fall Iím getting ready to go back out to Haida Gwaii for a search and rescue exercise. The scenario will be lost boaters following a storm. Weíll be deploying out to the west coast of the island where some of our Rangers are going to be conducting a search on land, meanwhile another group of Rangers will be up in a float plane so that they can recertify with the Provincial Emergency Preparedness group as spotters for air search and rescue.
Working with the Canadian Rangers has been an absolutely wild ride, since Iíve been here Iíve seen some amazing country, learned more about riding ATVís and snowmobiles than I thought possible, and Iím now certified as a first aid instructor. Theyíve kept me busy and itís a lot of work but every exercise I go on makes it all worthwhile.
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