It was another busy year for Central Okanagan Search and Rescue as they responded to 50 calls, up from 46 in 2017.
Although the number of calls remains consistent, the total number of days spent on task rose from 62 in 2017 to 64 in 2018 due, in part, to two protracted six-day searches.
COSAR members spent 3,500 hours on task in 2018, up from 2,200 in 2017. This does not include the approximately 6,000 hours spent on training, administration, fundraising or equipment maintenance.
“We had a number of complex tasks this year,” said COSAR president Dan Schlosser. “We requested and received mutual aid from Penticton and Vernon on our two longer searches. And one rescue at Christie Falls required rope teams from three different SAR groups as well as a helicopter from 442 Squadron out of Canadian Forces Base Comox.”
As the complexity of tasks increases, so does the need for more specialized equipment, as well as a place to store it, added Schlosser. COSAR has outgrown its current building and is considering how to upgrade the existing facility or find a new home.
Tasks in 2018 ranged from searches for pre-teens and dementia patients in their 80s, rescuing injured cyclists from Myra Canyon and Crawford trails, and helping injured hunters. The volunteer group also assisted in six body recoveries.
“The year was busy, but it had its positives as well,” said Schlosser. “We were named Volunteer Organization of the Year by The Central Okanagan Foundation.”
COSAR currently has 50 members and will be recruiting a new batch of volunteers next winter.
Originally established in 1954, COSAR is the oldest SAR group of its kind in B.C. They are responsible for backcountry emergency services between Vernon, Summerland, Merritt and Rock Creek and rely largely on donations to stay operational.
For more information, visit cosar.ca.