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Attending a Regional SAREX (Search & Rescue Exercise) – through the eyes of a ‘newby’ – by Kim

Preparing for a SAREX is always an exciting time, catching up with the guys and girls from around the North is always eventful.

The latest regional SAREX at Matakana was going to be challenging, and packing for an overnighter out in the bush was a new experience for me.

What to pack?
Well everything I had of course, not a good idea, 25kg needed to be reduced down to a comfortable 15kg, much better. But as I soon found out the most important item left out was a self inflating mat. I missed that item at midnight when we had been walking in very trying conditions.

Being part of a team that was experienced was a big plus. My job as part of the team was the map holder and navigator, I hadn’t had much experience with that before, but the other team members were very patient and I had it sorted in the first 5km of bush bashing and mountain climbing, did I mention that it was dark too.

Saturday was much the same, but we did make our way up a stream thru the bush, climbed a waterfall and I was really enjoying the great outdoors. Apart from the beautiful scenery we were actually searching for supposedly lost hunters. They were found about 3km northwest form where we were. So we were given another task, this time we were transported to the injured party, which we then stretcher carried him about 2km with about 30 other SAR team members.

Saturday night was highlighted by well deserved light refreshments and a great meal was supplied by the Auckland SAR members. Followed by a triva night for entertainment. Great night.

Sunday was a full day of map and GPS skills to get the brain and sore, tired body moving. We were split into teams of 8 with a comptition to make it more exciting. The first team back wins (wasn’t us, a team of police SAR members have that honour).

We had to find four locations on the map to find out the code. Then onto 4 scenarios, which included first aid, stretcher carry, boil a litre of water and erect a bivy for two people with what you had in your packs only (points taken off if you didn’t have the gear to do this), and then spot the 16 out of place items in the bush.

What I didn’t expect was that I didn’t feel out of my depth on any of these tasks, I have to put that down to going along to the training nights that NLSAR have once a month in Whangarei.

Finally a great weekend, meeting new people from all walks of life is always good. There must have been over 70 SAR members there with a hand full of air force lads thrown into the mix.

Bring on the next Regional SAREX in 3 years, I will be there.