A relatively quiet start to 2018 has allowed South Columbia Search and Rescue members to fine tune and update their training. Submitted photo

Quiet start to 2018 for South Columbia Search and Rescue

South Columbia members are focusing on updating training

No news is definitely good news when it comes to an update from the local Search and Rescue branch.

Mike Hudson, president of the South Columbia Search and Rescue (SCSAR), is happy to report that call-outs have dropped in 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

And that comes despite a few major dumps of snow that would surely entice back-country enthusiasts.

“It is still pretty quiet for us,” Hudson told the Trail Times. “I would say the majority of people around here have a good sense to stay away from the back country right now due to the high dangers.

“The snowpack is very unstable and slabby. With the constant snow falls followed by thaws and freezing, it becomes very dangerous for all activities.”

There was one incident on Friday when three snowboarders were rescued after spending a cold night in the backcountry near Whitewater Ski Resort.

Hudson said SCSAR has had approximately five call-outs this year whereas last year the number was closer to 10.

“In all last year we completed 32 calls and the year prior, 2016, we had 33 calls.”

Although it’s been quieter when it comes to call-outs, that doesn’t mean the crews have sat idly.

“We do quite a bit of training throughout the year,” explained Hudson. “Already this year we have had two members certify as CAA (Canadian Avalanche Association) Level 1 and we have had six members certify in Advanced Wilderness First Aid, which gives us more skills to deal with emergencies that are very remote and will take time to get them evacuated.

“We are also getting ready to begin a new GSAR ( Ground Search and Rescue) course. This course is for all our new members. It teaches them all the skills to be a Search and Rescue member as well as survival skills, shelter building, communications and radios, command structure, basic rope skills and systems etc.”

With that in mind, Hudson said SCSAR is also doing a recruiting drive to get a few more members. He encourages anyone to visit their website www.scsar.ca for more information.

Meanwhile Hudson said work continues inside the revamped South Columbia facility, which was officially unveiled last spring.

“Our garage interior is finally almost done with insulation, drywall and heaters, and we are in the process of building our new Command trailer.”

He said the old Command bus was in need of replacement.

“So we purchased a new cargo trailer that we are currently setting up to be our new Command, we are looking forward to completing the trailer and putting into service.”

Hudson added as spring approaches specialty teams like Rope rescue and Swiftwater Rescue will also be practicing at full speed, re-certifying in skills and getting up to speed with new changes or systems.