Re­servist re­counts Labrador ad­ven­ture

Sup­ported Arc­tic Com­pany Re­sponse Group as med­i­cal as­sis­tant

The Compass - - News - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

When Cpl. Nicholas Pet­ten took a week­long break from his stud­ies as a first-year stu­dent at Me­mo­rial Univer­sity ear­lier this month, it wasn’t to visit a hot spot and bask in the glory of the sun.

I think it was a great way to see up north. — Cpl. Nicholas Pet­ten

In­stead, the Clarke’s Beach na­tive was off to Labrador, where the young Canadian Forces Army re­servist sup­ported an Arc­tic Com­pany Re­sponse Team. He was there as part of the 5th Canadian Di­vi­sion’s an­nual war­fare ex­er­cise, billed as Ex­er­cise North­ern So­journ.

The trip up north for a mil­i­tary ex­er­cise was a first-time ex­pe­ri­ence for Pet­ten.

“This year they switched it up a lit­tle bit and made it more of a tac­ti­cal (mis­sion) in terms of dis­play­ing how we’re ca­pa­ble of set­ting up a de­fen­sive line, whether that’s here at home or abroad,” he said.

That’s a big com­po­nent of the Arc­tic Com­pass Re­sponse Team’s duty, Pet­ten added. Ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease, the an­nual ex­er­cise aims to test the mil­i­tary’s met­tle in harsh con­di­tions, mak­ing it more than ready to pro­tect sovereignty and na­tional in­ter­ests in North­ern Canada as needed.

Pet­ten has been in­volved with the Army Re­serves for three years. He in­quired about the group on a whim one day and de­cided it would be a great way to gain new ex­pe­ri­ences.

As a med­i­cal as­sis­tant, he as­sists med­i­cal tech­ni­cians, who are trained paramedics. Pet­ten, who comes from a fish­ing fam­ily, is ma­jor­ing in bi­ol­ogy but has thoughts of ei­ther be­com­ing a nurse or para­medic.

A big part of this year’s ex­er­cise was a three-day jour­ney by snow­mo­bile from Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay to Churchill Falls. A de­fen­sive line was al­ready set up in the lat­ter com­mu­nity. Pet­ten’s group used the trans­mis­sion line and the old Trans-Labrador Trail to reach Churchill Falls.

They stayed in tents with­out most of the ameni­ties one might ex­pect in these sorts of situations. The weather it­self was ac­tu­ally a bit warmer than what Pet­ten an­tic­i­pated while in Labrador.

“Ap­par­ently in the past when they went up there, they talked about it be­ing -40 C or -30 C, like real cold weather,” he said. “It was a bit more mild, which kind of blind­sided a lot of us who were packed and dressed for -30 C, - 40C.”

Over­all, the ex­pe­ri­ence more than met his ex­pec­ta­tions.

“I think it was a great way to see up north,” Pet­ten said, adding

he ap­pre­ci­ated the train­ing he re­ceived while par­tic­i­pat­ing in the mil­i­tary ex­er­cise.

As a re­servist in St. John’s, he at­tends meet­ings Thurs­day nights and pe­ri­od­i­cally has week­end du­ties. His home unit

is 35 Field Am­bu­lance. He looks up to Mas­ter Cpl. Gre­gory McDougall from that unit, cit­ing his work ethic and lead­er­ship qual­i­ties.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Cpl. Nicholas Pet­ten, who serves on a part-time ba­sis with the Canadian Forces Army Re­serves, was re­cently in Labrador to take part in a spe­cial ex­er­cise known as North­ern So­journ.

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