Campbell River Search and Rescue (CRSAR) has responded to more than 60 calls this year, marking a seven-year high for the volunteer group. CRSAR responded to 64 calls for service this year, up from 54 calls in 2018. The calls included tasks for missing persons, medical rescues, water rescues, mountain rescues and SPOT beacon calls.
“We often send resources to assist other teams on SAR calls, which can be anywhere in B.C.,” the release said. “Usually ground search and rescue (GRSAR) members are sent to mutual aid calls, however our specialty rescue teams, such as swiftwater or ropes are requested as well.”
Earlier in the year, one of CRSAR’s members was part of a command team during a call in Merritt.
In between calls for service, CRSAR members kept busy with training to keep their skills sharp.
“The training and skill level required to perform our operations is extremely high,” the release said. “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.”
CRSAR trains in a variety of disciplines, including rope rescue, swiftwater rescue, medical rescue, mountain rescue, tracking and K9 teams.
The group also had members trained in hoist rescue, where the helicopter team is “inserted into inaccessible terrain to rescue subjects trapped or injured and how require evacuation by air.”
This year, CRSAR performed five hoist rescues, including the rescue of a trio of stranded hikers on Mt. Schoen in August.
CRSAR also took part in numerous public relations events for community education and fundraising opportunities.
“Our AdventureSmart team provided backcountry education and safety messaging for children in classrooms, visitors to Elk Falls and many others,” the release said. “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.”
In March, the B.C. government announced a new round of funding for SAR groups across the province. It dedicated $18.6 million over three years to support SAR operations.
CRSAR said the funding will help with day-to-day operation costs like rent, utilities, training and equipment purchases.
“Without this funding, CRSAR would be a lot more reliant on donations and gaming applications,” the release said. “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.”
CRSAR continues to encourage backcountry users to be prepared, have a backup plan and let someone know where you’re going and when you intend to be back.
“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,” the release said. “A lot of people get reported missing simply because they didn’t let someone know where they were going or 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.”