ATVs have proven to be very useful in search and rescue operations in Ontario. In southern Ontario ATV clubs have been involved in some very high profile missions. North of Highway 7 where the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) provides policing services several of its specialized units routinely use ATVs.
According to Constable Alison Waddington, a Search Master with the Huntsville detachment of the OPP, ATVs allow a searcher to cover more area in less time.
In heavily wooden areas like Muskoka they are only useful if there are trails – walking, snowmobiling, bush roads – on which to ride the ATVs. They are also useful in getting searchers from the command post to the search jump-off point more quickly than by walking. During the autumn/winter and winter/spring transition periods they can be used when poor snow conditions preclude the use of snowmobiles.
The Hills Riders, an ATV club of about 30 members in the Orangeville/Newmarket area has been involved in several search and rescue operations that have been in the news lately.
Club members were part of the searches for Randy Mogridge, the autistic man whose body was found in a creek near Oakville; for Karla Koop, whose body was found in a golf course pond; and for Dylan Zamara, the York University student missing for several weeks.
According to John Penny, vice president of Hills Riders, ATV clubs and the Ontario Federation of All Terrain Vehicle Clubs (OFATV) provide a very valuable service throughout Ontario.
Not all areas are policed by municipal police forces that have their own ATVs for use in search and rescue operations. A call to the Ontario Federation of All Terrain Vehicle Clubs brought over 100 volunteer ATVers with their machines to assist in the search for Randy Mogridge.