By Mike Gregory
Members of the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) for Vancouver Island were in Ladysmith last week training at the now closed École Davis Road School.
The ERT is comprised of Mounties from across the island who volunteer for the part-time position in addition to their regular duties.
There are 22 spots on the ERT and training takes place four days a month.
Cpl. Rick Fraser said the team was in Ladysmith practising entries into buildings, such as schools, businesses or a residence.
The training is about “stress inoculation.
“There’s so many variables and all of these things are perishable skills,” he said.
In addition to the Vancouver Island team, there is also two other part-time teams in the north and south of the province. The lower mainland has its own full-time dedicated team.
The island’s ERT has responded to 38 calls so far year.
“That’s fairly busy for a part-time team. I think the Island district is the busiest part-time team in BC,” said Fraser, who’s been part of ERTs for 30 years.
Once a Mountie has volunteered for the ERT and is approved they must undergo seven weeks of speciality training in Ottawa.
“They’ve all worked hard to be here and everybody works hard to stay here,” Fraser said. “They want to do this so it really is teamwork at its highest level.”
Calls that the ERT respond to range from hostage scenarios to executing search warrants where the suspect is believed to be a dangerous offender. They also work to support the canine unit in dangerous searches and four-legged Boomer was on hand last week to take part in the training.
“We work with a team of crisis negotiators; we have an officer who’s overseeing the (situation) as a critical incident commander, and together we work to formulate a plan and our aim is always to have it end safely with nobody getting hurt.”
Ladysmith residents may have noticed the Mounties’ armoured vehicle that was brought in so that the ERT could practise dismounting and getting into formation.
The vehicle weights 15,000 kilograms and apart from the engine and drivetrain it’s been modified for the RCMP’s duties.
“It’ll stop shorter than a Suburban at the same speed so that’s always reassuring for the guys riding in the back,” Fraser said.