COVID-19 kept Central Okanagan Search and Rescue busy | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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COVID-19 kept Central Okanagan Search and Rescue busy

January 03, 2021 - 10:00 AM

COVID-19 may have curtailed a lot of social activity but more people were prompted to head outdoors, which could be why 2020 was also the busiest year in the history of Central Okanagan Search and Rescue.

In all, the team responded to 81 emergencies; historically we average 55-60 a year, Ed Henczel of COSAR said in a press release, noting that in addition to outdoor recreationalists, the team also responded to a record number of urban searches for distraught individuals and missing seniors and children.

"Sadly, there were also four body recoveries," Henczel.

The 51 COSAR members volunteered over 20,000 hours in 2020; 4,342 were spent on incidents, over 10,000 on training and the remainder on maintenance, repair, and general administration.

August was the busiest month with 16 calls. The team also responded to 10 mutual aid calls including helping Penticton RCMP with evacuations from the Christie Mountain wildfire and searching for a missing hiker in Manning Park.

The team recruited 14 new members in 2020 and all are currently operational.

"We also augmented our team’s capabilities by adding an RCMP certified civilian search and rescue dog to our ranks," Henczel said. "Chase is a two-year-old Labrador retriever."

For 2021, COSAR plans to recruit administration and maintenance staff and ads will be posted on Facebook.

Public donations helped keep COSAR operational and it received nearly $30,000, including $15,000 from the Central Okanagan Foundation and $2,500 from ReMax. The remainder came from the public via the donation button.

The money went towards first aid and rope team training, a TrailRider wheeled chair, and a new snowmobile.


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