Don't be alarmed if you get a knock on your door from Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel on Friday or Saturday. Cochrane has been selected as the site of a mock emergency exercise that kicks off Thursday, Mar. 21 and continues until the late afternoon of Mar. 23.

The large-scale scenario will see about 200 Search and Rescue Alberta members from across Alberta converge in Cochrane to take part in an exercise in partnership with the Town of Cochrane’s emergency management staff. 

The exercise is based upon the premise of a wildfire threatening the community.

It is the result of a successful grant application by Search and Rescue Alberta. 

"Fortunately, because of our great relationship with Cochrane Search and Rescue, Cochrane was approached to participate and of course we readily accepted," says Jay Judin, Cochrane’s director of Protective Services and Emergency Management.  "We saw this as a real win-win opportunity for Search and Rescue Alberta to be able to accomplish their goal as well our emergency management is going to be able to accomplish ours."

He praises the increasing role of SAR in assisting during disasters. Members of Cochrane SAR were among those assisting during wildfires in northern Alberta last summer.

"It's so important for our public to know that these are unpaid professionals volunteering their time to make themselves available 24/7 to help in response to disasters," says Judin.

READ MORE: 6 Cochranites helping in Alberta wildfire fight

The exercise starts late Thursday morning with the opening of the emergency coordination centre at the Cochrane RancheHouse and the response will accelerate as the scenario unfolds. That will include some door knocking at some west Cochrane homes starting Friday. Judin says no one will be disturbed before 9:30 a.m., nor will they be asked for any personal information.

It's to simulate an evacuation alert and evacuation notices that would take place in the event of a real emergency, he explains.

"They'll identify themselves and quickly let the residents know that there's no need to be alarmed, that there isn't an emergency, and that it is only an exercise."

They'll also receive a pamphlet with one side described the exercise, and the other provides information on how the residents can be better prepared in the event of a real emergency.

On Friday, the emergency coordination will be turned over to Canada Task Force 2 and Search and Rescue Alberta, ending the involvement of town employees in the scenario.

"Search and Rescue will be conducting the majority of their taskings in order to fulfill their objectives, and some of those include like a mass casualty incident response, some medical first response. I think there's a rope rescue, a water rescue, some drone operations, and they'll wrap up their day at about 4:30 p.m. on that Saturday."

Search and Rescue Alberta began in the early 1990s as a grassroots response to an identified need for trained people to look for lost individuals in wilderness settings. Over the last 30 years, teams have evolved into coordinated and trained resources with highly skilled responders, who not only volunteer their time but also a considerable amount of their own monies for gear, equipment, and ongoing training.

Today, it is estimated that Search and Rescue Alberta provides over $20 million annually in infrastructure support to agencies like regional police, fire and emergency response. Search and Rescue Alberta is a nonprofit comprising over 1,400 volunteers throughout Alberta.

For more information on Search and Rescue Alberta, visit