Guides, search-and-rescue team polish ice rescue skills

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Guides and search-and-rescue team members had the opportunity to take Surface Ice Field Safety instruction in Pond Inlet May 8 to 10.

Moses Amagoalik, left, Gary Kasarnak, Jeremiah Awa, in the water, Jake Awa, and trainer Steve Ruskay engage in an ice rescue session so rescuers can learn how to save themselves during a Surface Ice Field Safety certification training course held in Pond Inlet May 8 to 10.
photo courtesy Steve Ruskay

Trainer Steve Ruskay, who organized the certification course in the community, in partnership with Travel Nunavut, Economic Development and Transportation and outfitters, said 16 people took part.

Joanasie Tigullaraq, who took the course, said learning knots was important as they are used for rescue ropes and pulley systems.

He also said it was the first time he found himself in water in the winter. He was in the water during training sessions because, as Ruskay explains, learning how to keep yourself safe is one of those most important aspects of ice rescue. Participants had to learn how to pull themselves out of the water and onto the ice.

Ruskay says the course is nationally recognized.

“(The certification) is accepted in all jurisdictions in Canada as the standard for anyone who’s working on an ice cover, whether it’s on a lake, a river, an ocean. It meets and exceeds all the best practices and standards,” he said.

Outfitters Black Feather, Arctic Kingdom, Baffin Safari and Arctic Kingdom had their guides, who are hired for floe edge season, take the course.

“This course was important because for the employment perspective it provides proof of competency and certification, which is really good for the overall operational safety,” said Ruskay.

Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit was naturally included in ice discussions.