The Central Okanagan Search and Rescue team is looking for new members. (Central Okanagan Search and Rescue)

The Central Okanagan Search and Rescue team is looking for new members. (Central Okanagan Search and Rescue)

Have outdoor knowledge? Volunteer with Central Okanagan Search and Rescue

COSAR is hosting an open house night tonight at their hall on Old Vernon Road

Do you want to help save lives in and around the Okanagan?

The Central Okanagan Search and Rescue team (COSAR) may just have a spot for you. The volunteer-run team is recruiting new members, with an open house on Oct. 20 starting at 6 p.m.

COSAR spokesperson Ed Henczel said with the increase in calls for their help, they’re hoping to bolster their numbers. Currently, there are 51 active members, but he said they’re hoping to get that up to about 60 to 65 in order to fulfill tasks.

“We’re 50 per cent above what our norms are. We’ve had 90 calls this year, and we still have three months left,” he said.

“Based on historical data, we get a bit of a lull for the next 30 days and things start taking off in December again.”

But it’s not all about trekking in the dark, flying in helicopters or driving ATVs and snowmobiles to rescue people — it’s also about paperwork and a lot of training, Henczel said. He said applicants don’t have to have everything and be able to do it all, but they do want to see well-rounded people apply to fill out the team.

“We’re not looking for a Navy SEAL type of person, we’re just looking for well-rounded candidates. You don’t have to be super fit, but if you have a good level of first aid or you’re a navigator or you’re good with communications, you can help,” he said.

“We’re looking for outdoor knowledge, ability to work in a team, and availability. It’s a time suck and things happen at weird hours. No one is ever reported missing on a Sunday afternoon. They usually say ‘if I’m not back by dark, call someone’, so we get the call after dark. So if you have an understanding boss who can let you come in late on Monday morning after you’ve been out until 5 a.m. on Sunday, then that may work.”

Tonight’s open house will include a question and answer period at the team’s hall (4680 Old Vernon Road), followed by an evaluation hike and interviews.

“You cannot write too much on your application. If you’ve got some skills, you’re a project manager, include that in your application,” he said.

“We’re looking for a wide range of skills. It’s not all just being in the woods, so we’d rather have too much information in your application package.”

COSAR will be accepting applications until Oct. 31. More information can be found on their website and Facebook page.

READ MORE: Late night rescue of teen lost in remote area of Penticton


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