A helicopter with night-vision goggles would be nice: COSAR | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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A helicopter with night-vision goggles would be nice: COSAR

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue believes the solution to helicopter rescues is a matter of consolidating available services.
Image Credit: Central Okanagan Search and Rescue

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue believes it has a solution to having to rely on outside agencies.

It said a good example of having to count on outside help recently happened when a female snowmobiler hit a tree in the Greystokes area — east of Kelowna and was rescued by helicopter. It flew all the way from B.C.'s north shore because it was the only available chopper equipped with a winch and night vision.

Search and rescue's Ed Henczel said the solution to not having to rely on outside help is right here in the Okanagan.

"We've got a winch team out of Vernon and we have a long-line team in Penticton," Henczel said. "If we were able to combine those two and with night-vision goggles, we would be able to take care of ourselves. It's just a matter of funding and government will."

Night-vision goggles are not cheap — up to $10,000 if not more. Search and rescue is funded by the Regional District of Central Okanagan and the City of Kelowna. 

COSAR's wish list also includes a better hall. 

"We're running out of an old fire hall near the airport. It would be nice to have a location where we have all our gear together instead of scattered around in a few locations,"  Henczel said.

On average, COSAR deals with up to 60 calls per year and that number keeps climbing. 

"I think we're at 83 tasks this year. Last year, we did 107 tasks which was a record year," Henczel said.

He adds most of the calls they receive deal with tourists in need of help.

"A lot of our subjects are from out of town. There are a fair number of locals, but tourism drives our economy and quite frankly a lot of our calls. It's not just the locals that need us, but tourists as well." 

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