Campbell River Search and rescue (CRSAR) members did not get much of a long weekend, as they were kept busy with three calls in 24 hours.
The first call was at 13 minutes passed midnight on Monday, Aug 6, when CRSAR was called by the Port McNeil RCMP to locate two people who had become overtaken by nightfall on the Blink Horn Trail near Telegraph Cove.
“Initially we traced their location by cell phone ping to Bauza Cove, but their cell phone battery was running low,” Grant Cromer, SAR manager, said.
Not knowing how much battery they had left, CRSAR advised the RCMP to start a search by walking the trail as travel time was to the area was in excess of two hours. As a CRSAR team was mobilizing for the drive up it heard back that the RCMP were able to locate the subjects and walk them out to safety.
The second call came in at 7:27 a.m. for a report of a missing female at McIvor Lake. A female had ingested some drugs and became agitated and confused and ran off into a wooded area, Cromer said. CRSAR was mobilized to assist the RCMP with the search.
CRSAR members arrived on scene just as the RCMP K9 unit located the subject in a wooded area but there was no rest for the team that day.
“We stood down from that call only to be re-activated at 13:26 (1:26 p.m.) for a missing male in the Campbell River area,” Cromer said.
RCMP had received a 911 call that was dropped and upon further investigation, it was determined that the male may be distressed and seeking assistance, so CRSAR was mobilized to assist in an urban search. Police investigative efforts continued and it was determined through cell phone pings that the male was not in need of assistance and CRSAR stood down.
“These rapid fire calls highlight the nature of our response capability, from a wilderness search to flipping over to an urban search for distressed individuals is something we are seeing more of and becoming more accustomed too,” Cromer said. “We often see a great diversity in our call volume. We can be on the side of a mountain doing a medical evac for a fractured femur in the morning and helping the RCMP look for a missing child in downtown Campbell River in the afternoon.
“These are standard skills we teach and train for and we always tell our members you need to be ready for quick deployment and expect anything. This also serves as a reminder to the public that while they are out enjoying the sun and long weekend with their families, we are standing by 24/7 with a 100 per cent volunteer member response.
“We all joined a first responder agency like SAR because we like to help and want to be able to assist when needed. Quite often we are exposed to very dangerous situations that people have gotten themselves into, we have incredibly high levels of training and great equipment but there is always a level of risk when responding to a call.”
Doing a simple stretcher pack of an injured subject can result in members being injured and the risk factor is dramatically increased in a rescue call situation.
“Rope rescue, swift water rescue, high alpine medical evacuations all carry inherent risks that we try to limit but you can never remove 100 per cent of the risk. Our members are very well trained but we still have to accept that there will be a chance of injury or death when we are called to respond to help a member of the public who has gotten into trouble. There have been line-of-duty deaths before in B.C on SAR tasks and training events and we have that in the back of our minds every call we go on.”