Campbell River Search and Rescue received 64 calls for service this year, up from 54 in 2018. Campbell River Search and Rescue photo

CRSAR call volume reaches seven-year high

Volunteer search and rescue group received 64 calls for service in 2019

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.

Many of CRSAR’s calls this year were for mutual aid, according to a news release the group published on its website.

“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.

RELATED: Injured hiker rescued near Golden Hinde in Strathcona Provincial Park

CRSAR also took part in numerous public relations events for community education and fundraising opportunities.

RELATED: SRD, SAR impressed with Campbell River residents’ emergency preparedness

“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.

RELATED: Campbell River Search and Rescue happy to see new provincial funding

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.

RELATED: Missing mushroom picker found deceased

“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.”

There’s more details on CRSAR’s, website at www.crsar.ca or at adventuresmart.ca.

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Norm Ritchie and Tyler Abbott consult their materials before knocking on doors in the south end of Campbell River on Oct. 29, 2019. The Campbell River Search and Rescue members were taking part in a training exercise centred around an emergency evacuation. Photo by Marissa Tiel/ Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River Search and Rescue responded to three hikers that were stuck on Mt. Schoen on Sunday. They used their new hoist system to successfully conduct the operation. Photo by Campbell River Volunteer Search and Rescue/Facebook

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