In early February, the Manitoba RCMP brought 14 of its members from across the province to the area around Grand Rapids, Man., for a training exercise.
The small community, located on the northwestern shore of Lake Winnipeg, served as the setting for a gruelling weekend. Members were required to work in teams of two and make decisions, communicate and deal with one another – while living outdoors for three days at times in waist-deep snow, and as temperatures dropped as low as -40 C.
It was the first time the Manitoba RCMP ran this type of winter survival course. The initiative was a joint training exercise with the Department of National Defence (DND)'s 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, who served as the instructors.
"We knew that we needed this type of training to help prepare members for a worst-case scenario if anything were ever to happen," says Cst. David Deklerck, from the Winnipeg Training Services.
Cst. Danny Daudet, who serves on the province's east Containment Team – the group responsible for containing critical incidents until the Emergency Response Team (ERT) arrives and takes control – says he was surprised how mentally taxing the experience was. But the thing he says he learned the most from the weekend was the extent of his own abilities.
"Mostly it was about building the confidence and reaffirming to myself that I can handle it," says Daudet. "I know now that I can manage in that kind of situation if anything was to go wrong."
The purpose of the course was to prepare members of units like the Containment Team, ERT, the Underwater Recovery Team and police dog handlers should they become disoriented and lost during a call-out. It was set in the winter because the weather in Manitoba can be so extreme, but Daudet says he's confident that having survived the frigid temperatures, that he could manage in any season.
Daudet's comments reaffirm the value of the course for Deklerck. After they wrapped up the training, he had each member fill out course evaluations.
"The feedback I got from all the participants was overwhelmingly positive," says Deklerck.
"From Depot, we're trained to handle ourselves in difficult situations. This goes straight to that. This kind of training should be available to all of our members."