Not Just a Volunteer

Ski near GoldenA friend of mine posted the following comment on social media recently that resonated with me.

No one here is “just a volunteer”. You are in a life saving organization.

That’s quite an insight.

You’re not “just a volunteer”. This goes for SAR members, and volunteer fire fighters; PEP Air, and Royal Canadian Marine SAR members — we’re part of the public safety system, and we’re the lifeline to many people who would otherwise suffer and die every year if we weren’t there.

We’re not just volunteers. We have an obligation to maintain a certain level of performance, and to meet standards of safety. Our first duty is to keep ourselves and our team mates safe, and our second duty is to the subject, to rescue them. We have a tradition of safety to maintain, promote, and to pass down to the next generation of SAR volunteers.

We’re not just volunteers, we’re the last hope, and sometimes the only hope a lost person or their family has. That’s a grave responsibility. It’s something I think about at the beginning of every task.

I don’t think “I’m just a volunteer.”

If SAR members seem passionate about their volunteer work, it’s because we’re not just volunteers. We’re dedicated fanatics, we’re unpaid professionals, we’re lunatics who spend our free time training for things that rarely happen.

When that unlikely event occurs; when the person gets lost or injured, when the natural disaster happens, we will be there to help. And then forgotten until the next time we’re needed.

National Volunteer Week was last week. Remember that volunteers like SAR and in other areas are here year round, adding 50 billion in annual economic value for Canadians. 

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5 comments on “Not Just a Volunteer
  1. Shauneen Nichols says:

    Great article & I believe ‘And then forgotten until the next time we’re needed’ is evolving to more public awareness and appreciation because of just what is written. We are a heck of a lot more than ‘just volunteers’ and I believe fellows like yourself are shaking it up and using social media to throw the doors wide open to that fact. Keep up the great articles! :)

  2. Thanks for the kind words Shauneen!
    I’m not bitter about being forgotten, it’s in the nature of people to forget the things that are always there until they need them. If you think about any disaster, the responders arrive and the public and the media express wonder that these people are around, and trained to help. Disasters and emergencies are not normal, so I would not expect people to know about us until they need us.

  3. Shauneen Nichols says:

    Sadly it isn’t just the public, I’ve had RCMP duty officers marvel that a.) we have a Swift Water team b.) we are trained to search at night. I know we need to promote ourselves but with all else we have to do I worry what falls through the cracks. I like that members such as yourself are getting the message out there via social media..Here we are..This is what we can do. Well Done!

  4. Jouni Syrjala says:

    And that is tue! -SAR Sea Rescue Volunteer from Finland.

  5. Todd Bunger says:

    I cannot agree more. The organization I work with is a truly dedicated collection of unpaid professionals working till exhausted sometimes, to help people they have never met, but their life is often hanging in the balance. Volunteer, is so often a diminishing word … until you watch a team work in unison to save a life or support a rescue operation. Unpaid Professional is the term … all are amazing and among the best of us.

    Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery

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