"We're boots on the ground for the police services when they need us, because they can't stretch themselves that far.
Life Lessons From a Red Serge
Every life has a purpose. Staff Sergeant Pete Garvey knew from childhood what
he wanted to become and grew up to represent the RCMP with great pride. He
died as he lived, with gratitude and grace, from an incurable brain cancer.
This book was written so the Life Lessons he would have taught his
grandchildren would not be lost. These lessons could benefit anyone.
The authors, two of his sisters, eloquently describe and preserve their brother’s
values through their writing.
Profits from sale of this book will be donated to Search and Rescue
Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers (SARSAV), a cause Staff
Sergeant Garvey was passionate about and actively involved in.
Dorothy Rhead’s 65th birthday did not go as planned.
After a celebratory supper with her family on a stormy night, she returned home to a phone message from police: A young girl was missing and search team leaders were needed.
As a volunteer for Search and Rescue Regina (SARR), Rhead knew what to do. She headed to the search command centre police had set up on the 1900 block of Ottawa Street, where she put on her rubber boots and bright orange rain coat.
It was July 7, 2004, and the search for five-year-old Tamra Keepness was underway.
Even now, at the age of 79 and after 20 years of volunteering with SARR, Rhead said the Keepness case sticks in her mind more than any other.
“That Keepness search was probably the roughest search that I’ve ever been on,” said Rhead, recalling that she searched the 1800 block of Ottawa and the City of Regina Landfill.
“You’re given a pitchfork, and it’s raining and it’s windy and you have to move that pile of garbage from here to there, and you say to yourself, ‘I pray to God that my pitchfork is not going to hit that little girl,’” she said.
The search for Keepness is one of many SARR volunteers have participated in over the years.
SARR currently has 24 volunteers and is one of 17 chapters of Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers (SARSAV).
Past president of SARR Lloyd Goodwill said the number of calls they receive varies from year to year, ranging from just two or three to as many as 12 or 15.
SARR can only be called out to help with a search by another agency — the Regina Police Service (RPS), the RCMP, Parks Canada, Emergency Management or Fire and Protective Services — and volunteers work closely with police.
Rhead said the work search and rescue volunteers do across the province is vital.
“We’re boots on the ground for the police services when they need us, because they can’t stretch themselves that far. You know, they can do some, but they can’t go for days or all night, because they’ve got so much demand that’s on them already,” she said.
But training volunteers and providing equipment is expensive, and the non-profit organization often struggles to come up with the funds, said Goodwill.
Volunteers require first-aid training and around 40 hours of basic search training, and there are advanced courses after that required to become a search team leader or manager.
“We sit and we struggle all the time, just to get a basic first-aid course,” said Goodwill, noting that the cost of the course is $285 per person.
Through fundraising efforts, the organization pulls in some money, but it is often still short of what’s needed. To help with equipment costs, SARR has received hand-me-downs from other search and rescue organizations across Canada.
“We’re lucky that many of us have some contacts from different, other search teams and can take some of their gear. Like we’ve got gear from Vernon, British Columbia. We’ve got gear from Calgary, Alberta that we can give our people so they don’t have to spend $285 for a Gor-Tex jacket and all that,” said Goodwill.
Enter Barb Porter, whose brother Staff Sergeant Pete Garvey had long been involved in search and rescue efforts across Canada, both with the RCMP and as a volunteer.
When he passed away suddenly from brain cancer in June of 2017, she and her sister decided to write a book to pass on his knowledge, titled “Life Lessons From a Red Serge.” To further honour his memory, they decided all profits from the book would be donated to SARSAV.
“We thought this is something that we could do to support them, to shine a light on their important work and to honour our brother,” said Porter.
The book is in bookstores across the province and at the RCMP Heritage Centre.
Chaque vie a un but. Le sergent d'état-major Pete Garvey savait depuis l'enfance
il voulait devenir et a grandi pour représenter la GRC avec une grande fierté. Il
mourut comme il vivait, avec gratitude et grâce, d'un cancer cérébral incurable.
Ce livre a été écrit de sorte que les leçons de vie qu'il aurait enseigné à son
les petits-enfants ne seraient pas perdus. Ces leçons pourraient profiter à tous.
Les auteurs, deux de ses sœurs, décrivent et préservent avec éloquence
valeurs à travers leur écriture.
Les profits de la vente de ce livre seront reversés à Search and Rescue
Association des bénévoles de la Saskatchewan (SARSAV), une cause
Le sergent Garvey était passionné par et activement impliqué dans.