Campbell River Search & Rescue has had a busy year so far and it’s not over yet. To date we have had 34 operational calls that ranged from missing persons, medical rescues and SPOT beacon calls. 22 of those calls were between June 01 and Aug 31, needless to say it was a very busy summer. Our call volume was over normal for this summer, we ran from call to call with some days completing two calls on the same day.
We ranged as far from Duncan in the south island to Brooks Peninsula on the extreme north west coast of Vancouver Island. We performed 6 SPOT beacon rescue responses this summer, SPOT beacons are portable emergency beacons that a user carries with them and when they run into trouble they push the button and a system of satellites send the user’s coordinates to us. We responded to Strathcona Park, Brooks Peninsula and other areas to rescue people who had activated their SPOT beacons. In some cases it was small hiking parties who had become injured, lost or in some cases run out of food or were unprepared to finish the trip, we rescued one group of six that had become lost and did not have the supplies or physical ability to finish the trip.
We are seeing a rise in SPOT beacon calls, as the technology becomes less expensive, more and more people venturing into the back country are utilizing them. We support the use of PLB, Personal Locating Beacons as it does make our job easier, rather than have to search for a subject when they are reported overdue or injured, we are given a set of coordinates we can respond directly to. In most all cases we are utilizing helicopters as the locations these beacons are activated from are quite remote. We never know what we are responding to, injuries, lost, lack of supplies or simply don’t have the ability to continue their trip. We always respond as if PLB beacons calls are an emergency, we might be responding to a subject who has suffered major trauma or it might be that they are just lost and need to be evacuated.
We still have 3 months left in the year and anticipate several more calls. Our focus will shift to winter rescues and bad weather responses.
Our members really worked hard this year to accomplish what we did and we are proud of our record of response. All our members are volunteers who do not get paid to provide SAR services, we all give up our free time, work time and family time to go out and rescue people. We all enjoy what we do and encourage people to plan and prepare properly for outdoor recreation activities, take proper supplies to last the entire trip length plus at least 24 hours worth of extra supplies, ensure you have the physical ability to complete the journey and have proper maps and navigation aids and a way to communicate with the outside world. A sat phone, cell phone, flare something that can let other know where you are in an emergency.
– Contributed by Campbell River Search and Rescue.