We live in paradise. A veritable backcountry smorgasbord offering practically each and every outdoor activity known to man within spitting distance of our downtown. As such there are countless good times to be had. Unfortunately, in life there’s no beating the law of averages, and sooner or later accidents are going to happen.
That’s where these folks come in. For those unaware, when things go bad out back it’s time to call Search and Rescue (SAR). Well, technically they’re The Squamish Emergency Program Society (SEPS). SEPS volunteers become SAR volunteers when an actual search or rescue is initiated or Emergency Social Services (ESS) volunteers in the event of a social services emergency. But endless abbreviations aside, they’re just people like you and me except they’ve decided to commit much of their free time to help people in times of need. Their dedication to this community is greatly appreciated especially since they’re willing to share their wide variety of skills from high angle cliff rescue to helicopter and of course water rescue.
When they’re not saving people in the Smoke Bluffs or elsewhere in our back country buffet, they’re selflessly giving time to help local events. Heck, in the last two months alone they’ve been at the Wild at Art festival, Squamish Youth Triathlon, Beyond the Valleycliffe of the Dolls (BVOD), Outdoor Jazz Concert, Wael Audi Family Run, Test of Metal, The Rock Star… and this is just volunteer basis stuff. Actually BVOD turned into an actual task thus turning training into a real rescue. They attend so many events that it’s amazing they have any energy left when an actual call comes in.
Oh, and get this, Squamish Search and Rescue is responsible for the area as far north as Daisy Lake almost to Pine Crest and as far south as Lions Bay. Far, far beyond their municipal boundary. That’s a gargantuan area to be covered by a handful of volunteers and the use of the area is only increasing. In fact volunteers tasks have almost doubled every year from 23 in 2003 to approximately 45 in 2004.
So how can you help? Well for starters, when you’re gearing up to go play, don’t forget to bring your common sense. Sounds easy I know, but without fail each and every year simple things could prevent countless calls for help. Things like leaving a trip itinerary with a responsible person. Or bringing along essential items depending on your backcountry task: warm cloths, flashlight, fire starter, water etc. Not to mention checking the weather forecast and time of sunset. It funny / sad how many times you hear the story “let’s watch the sun set on the Chief” then they don’t bring a flashlight thinking it will only be dusk when they descend. Tough way to learn that in the forest dusk is pitch black.
Now as with every volunteer organization, donations of time and money are desperately encouraged. However, in this case, the best thing you could possibly do to aid our Search and Rescue is to never need their help.