How Kamloops Search and Rescue trains new recruits for worst-case scenarios

By Ashley Legassic
November 12, 2018 - 11:36am

KAMLOOPS — It could be another record year for Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) and, with some new members expected to join the force, the organization is training recruits for the worst cases.

KSAR has just finished up its drive for more volunteers for next year, and spokesperson Jenn Stahn says 20 applicants are seeking the job.

"We don't really have a goal set out, but our hope is to have about 10 to 12 seats that we fill in our ground search and rescue training program and we already have three or four members within the team that are members in training that will be going through that as well," Stahn says.

Ground search and rescue training is an intensive program in which new members must complete nearly 100 hours of classroom, online and in-the-field training to learn more about how KSAR works. The most intensive part, Stahn says, is an overnight component where different tasks must be completed in some of the worst conditions.

"We spend a full day out in the field practicing these things in a real life scenario, and then overnight we're building shelters and fires and having to do a night stretcher carry where we rescue somebody out in the bush and have to be able to carry them out in not ideal conditions," Stahn says. "Typically this happens in winter that we run it, we try to pick basically the worst conditions that we're likely to encounter and that's when we're going to put everybody through ground search and rescue just so that we're really testing and you get a feel for what it's like."

With 37 calls for tasks so far this year, KSAR could reach another record year. The record was set last year with 49 calls out, Stahn says, and although the team may not surpass that number, this year has been a record for multi-day searches.

"While there's a chance we might not quite hit the record of last year for the number of tasks, we're also looking at roughly 10 tasks that were multiple operational periods, so our operational periods are definitely looking to be a record," she says.

Stahn warns outdoor enthusiasts to be skeptical on days when conditions seem ideal, pointing out that at this time of year the valley can seem nice and clear, but heading up to higher altitudes brings cooler temperatures and earlier nightfall.

"Just make sure you're layered up very well, have all the essentials with you," she says. "(A) key one is water; people seem to think you don't need water when it's a little bit cooler out — or you don't need as much water — but it becomes even more important to make sure that you keep your body temperature at a constant level and don't freeze while you're up there."

 

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