August 08, 2013 - 8:30 AM
KELOWNA - It might be your first instict to call family or friends in an emergency situation - but dialing the numbers 9-1-1 should be your first move.
That's the message Central Okanagan Search and Rescue is adamantly putting to the public. Time spent hesitating only makes a rescue mission more difficult, and the same goes if you think a friend or loved one might be missing.
The message comes after two recent incidents on the B.C. coast where concerns about getting billed for rescue services delayed the emergency response.
Search and rescue want to clear up the confusion: they do not charge for their services and are entirely funded by provincial, local or regional governments as well as by donations.
Search manager Rob Braun says he's seen similar situations in the Okanagan where family members were reluctant to call for help.
"In our experience when a person is in trouble they first call family and friends and what happens is their cell phone battery runs out," he says. After that search teams have to go by the often conflicting information provided by the family.
Calling 911 first gives the police, ambulance or fire service time to delegate search and rescue teams. The point is to notify emergency services right away, before your phone dies or you lose connection.
"Sometimes we can guide a person out of trouble, we know what questions to ask them," Braun says, whereas family might not know the critical questions to ask.
It's an especially important message during the tourist season when family and friends are visiting from out of town.
"They get themselves into trouble, and worry: Man, this is going to cost us," Braun says.
And a false alarm is better than no alarm.
"The reality is everybody has made some poor decision along the line, call sooner rather than later - later is sometimes too late," and can push the rescue mission into the night or the individual further into trouble.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013