Canada Post letter carrier Boris Juracic has been with Mission SAR for two years. At the warehouse in Mission that SAR uses for trainings

Mission SAR responds to record number of calls

The Mission Search and Rescue team is increasingly busy as calls flood in from Mission and the Fraser Valley

At midnight on a Sunday in September, John Lemond’s old-school pager rang. The president of search and rescue in Mission rounded up a skilled team of volunteers and went to Stave Lake to find missing boaters. The lake was pitch dark.

The four volunteers shut off the boat’s lights hoping to see a flicker in the distance. A flare is spotted at the end of the lake. It took an hour to reach the two adults and four kids stranded because of a boat mechanical failure.

“We pulled up beside them, and you could see the relief on their faces because all they had were swimsuits and towels,” said Lemond.

As the group loaded onto the small rescue boat, three SAR volunteers had to stay behind. It was 6:30 a.m. by the time the entire SAR group returned to Mission. A few hours later, many proceeded to their day jobs.

The busy crew has already received 38 calls in 2013 as of early October. The annual average is 25 calls. Lemond attributes the increase to the warm summer that has drawn more people to the backcountry.

Since 1981, volunteers have saved countless people lost or stranded in B.C.’s rugged terrain. The non-profit group has evolved into a tight-knit and highly skilled team of 20.

On any given day, members might be recovering a body from a car in Norrish Creek, rescuing a rock climber by helicopter on Mt. Robie Reid, or assisting another SAR team in a search for a despondent individual who walked off by herself, as was the case with the effort to find Erica Schmidt in Abbotsford. More searches are of the latter type, as smart phones and GPS devices have allowed people accidentally lost to find their own ways out.

SAR teams are uniquely trained to deal with highly technical situations. Various members have skills in swiftwater rescue, rope rescue, and advanced first aid.

Call-outs inevitably require some fast figuring out on site as well.

“Almost always, the information you initially get is wrong. It’s not 15 km, it’s 10… Or the boat’s not green, it’s aluminum,” said Lemond.

To be able to respond to just about any call, members train for 10 hours each month, and participate in longer specialized training several times per year. For instance, Envision Financial recently supplied a grant to have some members participate in advanced helicopter rescue training.

Ten additional people are currently meeting the basics of becoming Mission SAR members. They’ll need to pass a 100-hour Emergency Management B.C. curriculum riddled with various physical and mental tests. The ultimate will be surviving a winter night in wilderness with only rudimentary survival gear.

“Because if they’re out there with a subject, they have to make sure they can look after themselves, and the subject,” said Lemond.

It takes everyone working together as a team to get a tough task done, something that has drawn team member Boris Juracic.

“Ever since I came across these guys, it’s been great,” he said. “Our team’s good. The camaraderie. That’s the most important thing for me.”

For more information, visit missionsar.com.

Just Posted

‘Compassion club’ operator loses bid to have pot-trafficking charges thrown out

Bob Woolsey of Mission argues that laws were not valid at the time of alleged offences

Location eyed for possible collector well

New estimate puts price tag of new water source at $81 million

Police investigate sexual assault of teen girl in Abbotsford

Incident occurred Wednesday night along Oriole Crescent

Bad behaviour to lead to expulsion at Abbotsford council

New rules lay out how a member can be booted from a meeting

More extreme weather beds needed in Mission

Council allocates another $5,000 to help keep people safe, warm and dry

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

RCMP nail sex toy thief

Shop owner plays a role in arrest

Ice-cream-eating bear draws controversy

An Alberta Wildlife Park posted a video this week of one of their bears going through a Dairy Queen drive-through

Police arrest pair after ‘high-risk vehicle takedown’

Vancouver police say replica handgun found in alleged suspects’ vehicle

Fernie, RCMP go to court over city log books in fatal ammonia leak probe

Log books center stage in clashing of investigations between the city and RCMP

B.C.’s biggest pot plant planned for Oliver

Co-founder Tony Holler said the 700,000 sq. ft. facility would produce 100,000 kg of pot per year

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

E-cig likely the cause of townhouse fire

Smoke and fire damage but no one was hurt in Chilliwack

Train derails in Northwest B.C.

CN reports no injuries or dangerous goods involved after coal train derailment.

Most Read