Search and rescue demand on the rise

  • Dec. 28, 2016 12:00 a.m.

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue is bolstering its recruits and supplies for 2017 after the fifth consecutive year of increased demand.

“We had 52 tasks, which were spread evenly throughout the year; these included urban searches, and rescues for mountain bikers, overdue hunters, and snowmobilers,” said Ephraim Nowak, president and search manager of the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue.

The search and rescue crew has seen a steady increase from 48 tasks in 2014 to 51 in 2015, to 52 this year.

“Our busiest time of the year was October, where we had six tasks within eight days,” said Nowak.

The search which received the most attention during that time frame was the search for a Citation Jet with Jim Prentice on board that disappeared shortly after takeoff from YLW.

“We also saw an increase in medical rescues, which often required the use of Vernon SAR’s helicopter winch rescue team,” said Nowak.

“This capability allows for much faster extraction and transport of injured subjects.”

Looking forward to 2017, Central Okanagan Search and Rescue will increase its response capabilities by training a new group of ground search and rescue members beginning in January.

“We are also purchasing a side-by-side UTV equipped with tracks, which will allow us to access the back-country during shoulder seasons where ATVs and snowmobiles are not ideal,” said Nowak.

A new primary response vehicle, which will carry standard search gear, as well as technical rescue equipment used by the rope team, will also be purchased.

Nowak said that the public has been supportive of their organization during the past year, and they look forward to serving the community’s needs in 2017.

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