Search and Rescue Alberta partners with Cochrane Emergency Management for mock exercise

Cochrane partners with Search and Rescue Alberta for mock emergency exercise

(Cochrane, AB) – Cochrane staff will be working with Search and Rescue Alberta (SARA) personnel to facilitate a mock emergency exercise in Cochrane and surrounding area. While Cochrane hosts mock disasters and tabletop exercises regularly to ensure staff are trained and ready to respond in an emergency situation, this exercise provides a unique opportunity to partner with Search and Rescue Alberta.

The large-scale scenario will see approximately 200 Search and Rescue Alberta members from across Alberta converge in Cochrane to take part in an exercise with the Town of Cochrane’s Emergency Management staff. The mock exercise taking place March 21-23, 2024, will center around preparing for and responding to a simulated scenario involving an approaching wildfire near Cochrane.

“Examining disasters in both Canada and internationally over the past several years, wildfires have been very prevalent and have had a significant impact on urban areas causing widespread destruction that requires significant evacuation efforts. With dry conditions, hot weather and significant wind, a fire can quickly grow out of control and cause widespread destruction. This is a risk that has been identified and should be mitigated and planned for,” said Jay Judin, Cochrane’s Director of Protective Services and Emergency Management.

To help prevent the risk posed by several heavily forested areas next to and within the Town’s limits, Cochrane Fire Services has secured grant funding from the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta for the FireSmart Program which will see the fuel available for fire in forested areas within Cochrane reduced over the next several years. "This initiative is essential in safeguarding our community from the threat of wildfires, underscoring our commitment to ensuring the safety and resilience of Cochrane residents for years to come,” said Shawn Polley, Cochrane Fire Chief.

The scenario will replicate an actual disaster and will see the Town’s Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) activated. SARA will be conducting door knocks in designated neighbourhoods to simulate evacuation notices. They will be providing an information pamphlet to those residents on how to be prepared for a disaster. “When it comes to preparedness, everyone in the community has a role to play,” added Judin.

The Alberta Emergency Management Act requires municipalities to have a plan in place for dealing with a disaster. The exercise is designed to assist with building community resiliency and ensure Cochrane is prepared to respond to any disaster that may impact the community. Before, during and after a disaster multiple internal and external resources are required to effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. One important way to create a safe and viable community is to prepare for, prevent or mitigate existing threats and hazards. This enables communities to better adapt to and recover from disasters.

“The value of search and rescue for disasters can’t be understated,” says Andy Potton, Exercise Director for Search and Rescue Alberta. “Our members are playing an ever-increasing role during disasters, as witnessed during the 2023 Wildfires, Alberta’s worst on record, and we’re eager for the public to know that our unpaid professionals can deploy 24/7 in response to disasters, and outside the scope of traditional search and rescue work.”

Search and Rescue Alberta is a network of teams across the province who are ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice – 24/7, 365 days a year. Commissioned by local tasking agencies including law enforcement, municipalities and emergency medical services, Search and Rescue Alberta teams respond by providing trained and equipped personnel during ground and inland water search and rescue incidents, first aid and medical first response support, emergency response, and other situations requiring technical specialties.

Search and Rescue Alberta began in the early 1990s as a grassroots response to an identified need for trained people to look for lost individuals in wilderness settings. Over the last 30 years, teams have evolved into coordinated and trained resources with highly skilled responders, who not only volunteer their time but also a considerable amount of their own monies for gear, equipment, and ongoing training.

Today, it is estimated that Search and Rescue Alberta provides over $20 million annually in infrastructure support to agencies like regional police, fire and emergency response. Search and Rescue Alberta is a non-profit comprising over 1,400 volunteers throughout Alberta. For more information on Search and Rescue Alberta, visit

Questions or concerns regarding the mock emergency can be directed to Jay Judin at or Andy Potton at

Emergency Preparedness Week is May 5-11, 2024. For more information on what you can do to help prepare for an emergency go to or Emergency Preparedness

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