James Dalton, director of Durant/Bryan County Emergency Management, said they have partnered with the Corps of Engineers who is allowing them to use 2,300 acres of land by the Lakeside Camping Area.
The exercise begins at 6 p.m. today, and continues through 6 p.m. Saturday, although those who are participating in field searches will not be released until Sunday. The property will be closed to the public during the training, according to Dalton, who said he expects there will 100-150 participants from 40-50 agencies in Oklahoma and Texas.
Dion Petaros, an instructor with the National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR) will be the coordinator for the event.
The focus of the training will be to teach how to properly do searches and rescues in the field for lost or missing persons.
“It will be a nice, realistic full-scale type exercise,” Dalton said.
The training is being held in the summer for two reasons: There are more lake visitors in the summer and it will give participants the feel of conducting a search and rescue in hot temperatures.
“We have more lake visitors in the summer than any other time, and most of them are from metro areas, and they are not used to the terrain,” Dalton said. “Also, the kids are out of school.”
Dalton said the hardest times to conduct search and rescue operations are in the summer and the winter.
They chose to do the first exercise in the summer, so participants will know what it feels like during an actual search in hot weather.
“An individual will be inserted in the field and we will be looking for her,” Dalton said. “She will leave behind clues, and she will be on the move like someone who is truly lost.”
Dalton said the training exercise will include aircraft from the Civil Air Patrol and medical helicopters.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” he said.
“We think it will be great training.”