2020 was a hard act to follow. Last year, our operational highlights included a record number of tasks (callouts) by a large margin over our previous record. We also had two of our largest searches on record, involving teams from all down the Island and the mainland, that actually ran concurrently. Our limits were stretched and we managed it well.
2021 however provided its own highlights. The first that comes to mind is the successful intake of nine talented new members, despite all the difficulties that health and safety measures placed on the training program. We very much look forward to employing these people’s skills as they gain more experience in the coming years. The second is the start of construction of the addition to our hall. This project will see us gain another, smaller meeting room, another office and an upstairs washroom, all over a fourth vehicle bay downstairs. CRSAR will be reaching out to the community for funding to help us bring the project to completion. With a larger hall, CRSAR will be able to keep up with increasing demands in the years to come.
Strathcona Provincial Park provided the location for all of our most significant rescues. Once again, our Mountain Rescue team was the most requested by far, of our specialty rescue skills. This helps fuel a progressive training program that we run both in-house, and with the help of a local mountain guiding company. We were called to the vicinity of the Golden Hinde at least 6 times and one of those involved bringing hikers down safely through steep, loose and technical terrain in the dark. Another call to Rambler Peak required our members on scene to devise a way to bring climbers to a helicopter pickup spot, moving over steep rock and ice.
Due to advances in technology (people can often give us coordinates of where they are), we don’t feel that we are asked to actually search for people as often as we did in previous decades. One of the more memorable searches this year, working with Comox Valley SAR, took place on the banks of the Oyster River. A 71 year old male with a physical handicap had been out overnight, and had the community greatly concerned. It was one of our Island canine teams who actually found the fellow, alive and well.
It’s an interesting feeling, knowing that the phone could ring any time, and we will be asked to put our skills and resources to use. The request could be anything from looking for a dementia patient who has walked away from home in town, to a highly technical rescue that requires flying by helicopter to a remote location, working with questionable weather and limited daylight. The lives of our members are never boring!