As always, the range of our call outs are wide and varied over Vancouver island and it’s inlets and surrounding islands. Earlier this year one of our members provided mutual aid and was part of the command team at a call in Merrit.
Many of our calls were for mutual aid this year. We often send resources to assist other teams on SAR calls, which can be anywhere in BC. Usually ground search and rescue (GSAR) members are sent to mutual aid calls, however, our specialty rescue teams such as swiftwater or ropes are requested as well.
SAR performed 5 hoist rescues in the backcountry this year. In a hoist rescue, the helicopter team is inserted into inaccessible terrain to rescue subjects trapped or injured and who require evacuation by air.
In between all of the calls for service, we continued to train constantly. Campbell River Search and Rescue (CRSAR) is a very diverse team which trains in a variety of disciplines. Rope rescue, swiftwater rescue, medical rescue, mountain rescue, tracking and the K9 team were all very busy this year between training and being tasked to look for missing persons in wilderness settings.
The training and skill level required to perform our operations, is extremely high. Our teams are stacked with incredibly dedicated and knowledgeable folks who put in a lot of time and training to perform necessary skills, when on task.
Highlights for the year include a higher call volume, numerous public relation events, important prevention awareness and education efforts and the investment by the province for a more sustainable funding model.
CRSAR had 64 calls for service, up from 54 calls last year. Those 63 calls vary included missing persons, medical rescue, water rescues, mountain rescues and SPOT beacon calls.
The numerous public relation events this year assisted many community based fundraisers and educational events.
Our AdventureSmart team provided backcountry education and safety messaging for children in classrooms, visitors to Elk Falls and many others. Prevention is an integral part of what we do, we try to educate members of the public and provide the knowledge to make safe informed decisions when recreating in the backcountry.
This year also saw the start of a sustainable funding model that the SAR community has been working on for years. The province has dedicated 18 million over 3 years to support SAR operations. This money will assist provincial SAR groups in the day to day running of their operations to cover costs like rent, utilities, training, and equipment purchases. Without this funding, CRSAR would be a lot more reliant on donations and gaming applications. Although it’s not the model we were seeking, it’s a great start and commits the province to providing us with long term, sustainable funding.
Locally and province wide, SAR calls are trending upward. The availability of gear, technology and the desire to go further, has driven a lot of people into the backcountry, and not all are prepared for such explorations. Any trip requires some fact checking and research to ensure the planning of a safe trip. SAR always stresses for people to have a back up plan and to make sure someone knows where you are going and your intended return time. A lot of people get reported missing simply because they didn’t let someone know where they were going on when they plan to return. Make a plan, stick to it and be prepared for any weather or travel delays. This might mean an extra day of food or a simple rain jacket to stay dry.