Lakehead Search and Rescue Unit (LSRU) is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization committed to ground Search and Rescue
in the District of Thunder Bay. The unit works with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the City of Thunder Bay Police Service for the purpose of supplying knowledge, manpower and equipment in the search for lost persons. Volunteers are on call 24 hours a day / 365 days a year to assist with the location of lost persons. LSRU currently has an active roster of approximately 30 fully qualified search ready volunteers for all OPP searches, making the unit one of the largest in Ontario and well respected in the SAR community.
The LSRU Operations Centre is located in the Dorion building on the Confederation College campus, Thunder Bay. In addition this location serves as the unit training facility, as well as a storage location for the Mobile Command Centre, Emergency Vehicle and Utility Trailor. LSRU is very grateful that Confederation College has donated the use of this space for the unit.
Training Our Community
LSRU members are trained to Search and Rescue (SAR) Level I standard as required by the OPP and are constantly upgrading their skills through additional training programs and SAR exercises. Unit members provide programs for local airlines, Bell Canada, Ontario Power Generation, Hydro, and other companies / community organizations that have employees working in the bush. LSRU is well known for the various preventive SAR programs offered within the community, as well as the high standards that they adhere to.
In addition to sharing important knowledge on bush survival with companies, LSRU provides the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) HAT (Hug-A-Tree) and Survive national program for children. This program is designed for children ages 5 to 12 years old and is run free of charge at schools and for youth groups in the community. This program provides excellent survival information for children, teaching them what to do if they become lost.
Who do we typically search for?
The term “Lost Person“ can be just about anyone. Lost persons typically searched for can be hunters, hikers, campers, berry pickers, outdoor enthusiasts, and tourists. Many searches are for children and the elderly. Simply having a local SAR unit should provide comfort for people moving to the area as LSRU increases the safety of the community. Unit members are compassionate about giving their time, skills and equipment to help find lost persons.
Past History of the Unit
LSRU started in the late 1950’s searching for lost fisherman, hunters, berry or mushroom pickers, and children. At that time policing agencies did not undergo training in conducting searches for missing persons and lacked specialized SAR units, as well as SAR equipment. Searches were comprised of families, friends, citizen volunteers and co-workers of the missing person, operating with no formal SAR training, planning or structure. On these searches police presence was generally limited to 1-2 officers to take charge of the scene in the event a fatality was involved. Despite that these volunteers were eager, motivated and well intentioned, often the results were tragic. After one such tragedy, the Lakehead Search and Rescue Unit (LSRU) was born.