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STAHN: The committed life of a search and rescue volunteer

October 31, 2014 - 6:20 AM

I spent an evening with our local search and rescue members recently. It was kind of like being a kid playing dress up — I got to hang out and pretend I was one of them while they took part in a training session.

But I honestly don’t think I could ever do what they do.

They volunteer their time and can spend hours upon hours away from their families as they train and go on rescue missions, often overnight or in cold, wet weather. They invest their own time and money into making sure they have the gear and the knowledge to use that gear.

And all to save the life of someone they don’t know.

That’s a huge commitment to make, and one they do not take lightly. Rescuers tend to come from a wide array of backgrounds, some have a rescue background as a medic, others help people as a teacher, some know the backwoods from their jobs with B.C. Parks and others are long retired from these jobs.

Depending on their interests and strengths they take additional training to become specialized in swift water or rope rescues, or maybe even helicopter winch rescue. They may even be called out to help with searches in other parts of the province as well, especially if they have specialty training.

Now, I’m not suggesting I don’t care and I wouldn’t try to help someone in need. But let’s be honest, it is a huge commitment to invest that money and time into a volunteer position and put yourself on call 24/7 (though members are not expected to make it out to every rescue call.)

Recently Kamloops Search and Rescue were called out in the waning daylight to help find a dirt biker who had not returned to camp when he was expected. Nearly 12 hours later the injured man was found and brought out to a waiting ambulance.

On that search members faced a large network of dirt bike trails through heavy forest, at night. They had to rely on the skills they have learned and work as a team.

Just two days later I saw those skills as crews learned the ins and outs of using a GPS and how to properly pace out distances. They were in full gear — helmets, headlamps and packs — as they spent the dark, cool evening at Riverside Park.

I loved watching them work as a team to figure out a problem. It was great to see them help each other out to learn the new gear.

It was even more impressive to see them end up where they were supposed to at the end of the drills. I know I feel even safer knowing these are the men and women who will be out looking for me if I ever get into trouble.

To contact a reporter, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

Kamloops Search and Rescue members train at Riverside Park Monday night.
Kamloops Search and Rescue members train at Riverside Park Monday night.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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