To anyone plucked from a river, hoisted out of a ravine, or located after a chilly night in the woods, their value is beyond dispute.
Search and rescue volunteers throughout the province are available to assist those in trouble at a moment’s notice, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Last Saturday in Chilliwack, they again proved their worth.
It was their busiest day ever, says Chilliwack SAR search manager Doug Fraser.
In addition to answering calls here, Chilliwack SAR members also assisted in Hope. Four calls in one day – a good day’s work for a bunch of volunteers who pay for their own training.
Chilliwack SAR’s lineage stretches back nearly 60 years, when locals resolved to form the Chilliwack Emergency Rescue Corps following the five-month search for a passenger airliner that crashed into Mount Slesse in 1956, killing all 62 people on board.
With the creation of the Provincial Emergency Program in the 1970s, the cadre officially became Chilliwack Search and Rescue.
Today, it is composed of about 35 volunteers, each bringing special skills and abilities to an organization that must prepare for a range of calls. In the Chilliwack area – with its 1,100 square kilometres of rivers, lakes and mountains – that could mean swift-water rescues, alpine and avalanche rescues, ground searches, as well as helicopter and long-line responses.
On average, they respond to 60 or 70 calls per year.
When they are not helping others, they are improving their skills through training and education. In all, volunteers can expect to commit an average of 300 volunteer hours annually to the organization.
Chilliwack Search and Rescue currently has a full complement of volunteers. However, there are other ways to help. The association relies on contributions and community support to help purchase equipment and offset some expenses.
To anyone who spends time in Chilliwack’s backwoods – or cares about someone who does – a donation would seem a worthy investment.
To find out more, go to chilliwacksar.org