Sean Sublett’s role as president of Mission Search and Rescue (MSAR) can be all-encompassing. He says the job warrants attention at all times and it’s never when it’s convenient.
Even during a Sunday morning interview with the Mission Record, his pager rings and he’s called away.
“The time that it takes having a family, having a job, and then doing this on the side too — it can be quite taxing,” Sublett said. “Anybody who’s a part of a volunteer organization can tell you that it’s a second job.”
Sublett has worked with MSAR for over a decade now. He says he enjoys the challenge that it brings physically but was surprised at how worthwhile the work would be.
“It’s very rewarding because when you get out there and you’ve really helped bring somebody home, it’s a super rewarding feeling,” he said.
He says rescues are dynamic in nature and range from physically challenging to emotionally taxing. Sublett says the calls that result with a deceased subject are always hard.
“With the physically challenging ones, you get over that after a couple of days of being really sore or really tired,” he said. “Whenever you’re dealing with the passing of somebody, it can be quite taxing. Those are the ones that stick with you.”
Over a decade ago, Sublett started showing up at the MSAR hall as a “hang-around.” He completed a Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) class and the rest was history. Sublett says his outdoorsy and active nature made him a natural fit for the work.
MSAR is a fully volunteer-based organization primarily composed of Mission residents, with a handful from Abbotsford as well.
“It’s all volunteer work. Everybody still has their nine to five job, so this is just something we do on the side,” Sublett said. “Whether or not you can make the calls — if they come in during work hours — is dependent on everybody’s individual situation.”
The organization currently has 26 volunteers and nine more volunteers are on the way, with training expected to wrap up in the spring. The new volunteers would have a one-year probationary period before becoming full members.
When he started with MSAR, the team featured about 10 people.
“Like any organization, we’ve definitely seen our share of ebbs and flows, but we have a steady trajectory up into higher numbers,” he said.
In 2022, MSAR improved their rescue capabilities by training aid members through their Rope Rescue Technician program.
Sublett hopes to improve other capabilities as well such as training and equipment.
“Our jet boat is a 30 year old platform and it’s starting to show its age,” he said. “We’re actively fundraising and looking to replace that boat.”
MSAR is looking into a $250,000 replacement for the current boat and the organization has already fundraised $75,000 for the project.
Shine Bright Mission is drawing closer – on Friday, March 3 from 7 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. Downtown Mission will be lit up with 16 unique lights that symbolize important places and organizations in the community, thank first responders, and support local businesses. This community celebration will feature live music, children’s activities, and lots of lights.