The South Cariboo Search and Rescue (SCSAR) response area is more than 13,000 square kilometres and it includes a huge mix of terrain and wilderness, so they make it their goal to be prepared for anything.
Hunters venturing out in the 100 Mile House area this fall should do the same, says SCSAR search manager Val Severin.
“There are a lot of different spots and scenarios where people get into trouble. We go right down to the Fraser River and across to Clearwater, so our boundary there is quite mountainous and technical. There’s definitely a wide variety [of land]. We have swift water, flat water, you name it.”
SCSAR operates under the direction of the 100 Mile House and Clinton RCMP detachments in cases where people are reported lost, overdue or missing. They’re also mobilized by BC Ambulance, fire departments, the Coroner’s office and BC Parks, so the where, when and why they get a call and how they respond to it is really unpredictable.
“We’ve had five calls in the last month, but then we’ll go two or three months with no calls at all,” Severin says, adding SCSAR responds to about one or two calls of a missing or lost hunter and an average of a dozen search and rescue calls every year.
“Most times it’s people from outside of our area who have come here to hunt and stuff happens.”
Forty-two volunteers make up the SCSAR. Severin’s job as search manager is to delegate and help come up with a plan and figure out how and where they disperse their response teams. A 12-year veteran of search and rescue, she notes that although outdoor gear and navigation technology has advanced significantly throughout the years, campers, hikers and hunters shouldn’t rely solely on new gizmos and gadgets.
“There is lots of new stuff that helps, but we can’t rely on that because electronics can always fail. There’s no 100 per cent [way to be sure of where you are] other than going back to the basics and having your map and compass and knowing how to use it.
“The potential is there for people getting into trouble by thinking they have a GPS on their phone. But, they get outside of Forest Grove and it’s not going to help them.”
Hunters are advised to have a trip plan and leave it with someone or on on their vehicle before they head out into the woods. A trip plan and other resources are available on the SCSAR website.
“Be prepared because you just don’t know when things are going to go wrong. “Basically, have the gear and know how to use it. Know when you’re going to be back and have a plan for someone to call for help if you’re not back when you’re suppose to be.
“Have the basics of life. Be able to take water and food and be able to make a fire and have first-aid supplies.”