SAR Day 42 and 43:

Some SAR Days are exciting, and some are not. On the weekend the team was paged out for several missing hikers; I did not attend the search, but from time differential between when the pager went off and the stand down page arrived I can only surmise that the subjects were located rather quickly and without incident.
I like to refer to these searches as “insta-search”.

In the past, SAR teams activated using a staged roll-out; starting with just a few members and increasing numbers as the search area required. However, research into lost person behaviour and the results of many SAR operations show that the subject is most likely to survive if they are found in the first 12 hours. This resulted in SAR teams changing their procedures to do a full call-out as soon as it can be determined that there is a last known position (LKP) that indicates that the person is lost or missing. This means the team almost always responds with all available members for every search; now knowing if the person is lost, injured or in distress means we have to assume the worst.

Of course the modern SAR operation usually starts with the subject making the 911 call, in which case we can get a good picture on their condition, and possibly even their location. Information like this can temper the response; for a person who is merely unsure which direction to go we can send a small team, and for an injured person we can respond via helicopter.

But there are always the false alarms where the subjects are merely a little bit late, and the lone car in the parking lot that gets called in by the Buntzen Lake warden’s office is not missing. While they can be irritating, they are also a part of being a SAR volunteer, and I’m happy to be on my way to a search, only to hear everyone is OK and we can go home early.

Tuesday evening training was boat operations on the Fraser river, and I have the following pictures which in no way reflects on the standard operating procedures of the team.

I see seven rescuers in a small boat.
We’re here to help. Don’t worry, we’re professionals.

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