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Campbell River volunteer searchers covered a huge area in 2013

Busy, but typical.

That’s the 2013 year-end review from Campbell River Search and Rescue (SAR) whose volunteers responded to 30 calls to assist in multiple emergencies.

“We had a wide variety of calls from missing persons to plane crashes to emergency locater beacon rescues,” said search manager Grant Cromer in a news release.

Local teams responded as far away as Cape Scott – several times to evacuate injured hikers – to Port Alberni that saw more than 100 volunteer searchers and first responders come together to evacuate an injured hiker from Mt. Arrowsmith.

Campbell River SAR teams also went to Wakeman Sound and Bute Inlet on the mainland to rescue hikers and to assist survivors following a helicopter crash where one man died.

“The diversity of our area speaks to the variety of calls we respond to, but more so to the experience and skill our members have,” said Cromer. “One week we are pulling hikers off a mountain in some remote inlet, the next week we are looking for a dementia walk-away in Beaver Lodge Lands.”

Campbell River SAR cover the whole North Island and parts of the mainland.. As a result, there are major logistical challenges in moving equipment and people to remote locations.

In many areas along the West Coast, the searchers have limited communications and satellite phone coverage can be “spotty.”

Nevertheless, with donations and fundraising, Campbell River SAR continues to upgrade and add equipment.

“We have recently acquired three satellite tracking beacons that can be deployed with teams that provide two-way tracking and response capabilities. This goes a long way towards keeping us in touch with our field teams for safety reasons,” noted Cromer.

One of the highlights of 2013 was going to Vancouver to continue education with the swift water team, specifically advanced medical treatment and transport of hypothermic patients.

Challenges for the new year include the need for more training and equipment, and rising costs for insurance and other needs.

“Our goals for 2014 are to continue and advance the training our speciality rescue teams, we are hoping to receive gaming funding this year that should allow us to cover some of our operational expenses,” said Cromer. “We are holding a training course this spring for new members as well as we plan to continue with our public education component.”

For more information, call 250-923-2500.

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