Ground search and rescue teams from southwestern Nova Scotia will hone their skills in finding missing people with a training exercise Sunday, March 22. The event, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is based on the scenario that a young girl is lost and her father has gone missing while looking for her. The exercise, organized by Yarmouth County Ground Search and Rescue, also involves teams from Clare and Barrington. The public is invited to see how searches are conducted and have a look at the equipment teams use. The search will take place in fields and woods behind the Yarmouth Mall, with search headquarters in a command vehicle nearby. “A lot of people don’t realize what we do, so it’s a chance for them to come out, meet us and ask any questions,” said Corey Burke, president of Yarmouth County Ground Search and Rescue. The Emergency Management Office, which helps train and co-ordinate Nova Scotia’s 24 ground search and rescue teams, is sponsoring the exercise. “Ground search and rescue volunteers perform an invaluable service for Nova Scotians, sacrificing time from work and with their families to look for missing persons,” said Emergency Management Minister David Morse. “They save lives and they help their fellow citizens in times of crisis.” An estimated 1,100 Nova Scotians volunteer with search teams, but numbers have declined over the past decade. Teams conduct 55 to 75 searches in an average year. “We hope people who come out to see this exercise will consider taking training to become ground search and rescue volunteers,” said Len Goucher, acting Minister of Volunteerism. “Nova Scotians have a tradition of giving back to their community, and this is a great way to do so.” The Emergency Management Office (EMO) contributes $3,000 to each team. As well, EMO has secured federal funding of more than $650,000 to provide identical GPS units, laptop computers and mapping software to all 24 teams, and to link the teams digitally through a server at EMO’s Dartmouth headquarters. This year marks the 40th anniversary of ground search and rescue in Nova Scotia. In November 1969, more than 100 volunteers searched for Billy Antle, a 39-year-old father of five who had gone missing while hunting with friends near Wreck Cove, Victoria Co. After five days, they found him alive but suffering frostbite.