May 10th, 2021

Dozens of air cadets stranded by weather during weekend training

By MO CRANKER on October 1, 2019.

A group of Medicine Hat Air Cadets spent the weekend training a few hours out of the city and were supposed to travel back to the city Sunday – then the weather happened.

The group got word Sunday during heavy snowfall that only one of two buses scheduled to bring them back to the Hat would make it and had to start looking at places to stay for the night. Around 40 people were without a ride.

“We went out there this weekend for a field exercise that is held around this time of year, every year,” said commanding officer Barry Duffield. “It was a leadership exercise we do and we teach them survival skills like starting a fire and building shelter.

“We knew there was likely going to be bad weather on the Sunday and everything went well until one of the buses didn’t show up.”

The Medicine Hat cadets were training with other groups, including one from Brooks that found itself in the same position as the Hat group. Both Medicine Hat and Brooks cadets were left without a way home, so Brooks parents worked with the Hat group to get everyone to Brooks.

“We thought about camping for an extra day because we could have handled the conditions, but after a full weekend we didn’t want to put everyone through that,” said Duffield. “When the Brooks parents came to get their kids they offered transportation to our group to get us to warmth and cellphone reception in Brooks.

“Within 20 or 30 minutes we had an overwhelming amount of support from those parents and the people of Brooks who got a hold of neighbours to help us with rides.”

The Hat group spent the night at the Brooks Air Cadets headquarters where they could watch TV and play board games with a roof over their heads. Brooks parents then started phoning nearby businesses to see if they could help out.

“We’re blown away and so thankful for the support,” said Duffield. “The list is as long as my arm with how many people stepped up and donated food, toothbrushes – you name it – all so cadets could stay warm.”

The Monday bus eventually got to the cadets and brought them back in the afternoon and Duffield says they wanted to thank everyone who helped them get out of a tough situation.

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