Search crew, snowmobile club cooperation key for winter rescues

Given the high-risk designation of the sport, preparedness is paramount for snowmobilers and rescuers alike.

Once a month, the Vernon Search and Rescue team tries to meet the Vernon Snowmobile Association to socialize, ride the trails and practice recovery. Thursday, March 14 four members of their team took to the snowmobile trails at Silver Star Mountain.

Kevin Hillier, Vice president of Vernon SAR, has been volunteering for over 15 years. He said that it’s the relationships with the snowmobile community and the local clubs — Vernon Snowmobile Association, Hunters Range Snowmobile Association and the Lumby Mable Lake Snowmobile Association — that allow the group to be so successful when they are needed.

“We rely on the snowmobile clubs to help us out on searches if we don’t have enough members and we have a search going on,” he said, expressing his gratitude. “We call on these club members every year to help us out on long searches or when we need local expertise and actually, this year, all the clubs have helped us at one time or another with searches.”

Read more: Vernon Search and Rescue comes to aid of injured snowbiker

Read more: Search and Rescue home sought

He said some of their club’s members also volunteer to aid SAR as “convergent volunteers” to assist on tasks — these members are typically trained and have learned the proper procedures and policies necessary for a successful search or rescue. He also said it’s often where people are recruited for the SAR team because most are recreational sledders too.

Though Hillier said their call volume has remained consistent in recent years, the nature of the calls has changed. Most rescues are due to the technological advancement of the machines themselves.

“More and more, the reason we get called out is because of the technology,” Hillier said. “Inexperienced riders are able to get much further into the backcountry than they would have even five years ago and that’s what we say when we do talks and go to snowmobile clubs: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

Vernon SAR also does “extensive outreach” with snowmobile clubs to spread awareness of dangers and to make sure people are properly equipped when they head for the trails.

“Generally, we visit all the local clubs twice a season and attend all the local snowmobile events – we go to the BC Snow Show, we go to the Lumby-Mable Lake snowmobile club events, the Vernon Snowmobile association puts on a couple of events every year that we go to as well,” he said. “We chat with sledders and offer advice in terms of safety gear and generally we see a high level of compliance. In the past, people were pretty minimal in terms of what they took with them but now they are proud of what they take and we’re seeing a much higher level of preparation.”

Noting snowmobiling is a high-risk sport, Hillier also encourages sledders to call when they think the may be in trouble.

“We always say, ‘call early, call often.’ We can always go home and there’s no charge for our service,” he said. “We’re really trying to help people be safer and generally people are listening but there are also a lot more snowmobilers now too.”

Related: Two snowmobilers missing near Vernon found safe

Related: Sunday a ‘gong show’ for Vernon Search and Rescue

Related: Search crews warn snowmobilers not to do ‘something stupid’ Family Day weekend

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.



Follow me on Twitter @BrieChar
Email me brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com
Like us on Facebook.

Vernon SAR crews hone their snowmobile rescue training on Silver Star Mountain Thursday, March 14. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Vernon SAR crews hone their snowmobile rescue training on Silver Star Mountain Thursday, March 14. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Vernon SAR crews hone their snowmobile rescue training on Silver Star Mountain Thursday, March 14. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Vernon SAR crews hone their snowmobile rescue training on Silver Star Mountain Thursday, March 14. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Vernon SAR crews hone their snowmobile rescue training on Silver Star Mountain Thursday, March 14. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Vernon SAR crews hone their snowmobile rescue training on Silver Star Mountain Thursday, March 14. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Vernon SAR crews hone their snowmobile rescue training on Silver Star Mountain Thursday, March 14. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Vernon SAR crews hone their snowmobile rescue training on Silver Star Mountain Thursday, March 14. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

Just Posted

Penticton student looks to give back in wake of New Zealand terrorist attack

Hussain Sattar, a Grade 12 student at Princess Maggie of Muslim faith, discusses coming together

Okanagan College to develop wellness strategy for drug use

The Kelowna campus has 28 employees trained in the use of naloxone.

Things are looking up, way up for new Penticton restaurant

The 300 Block Casual Steakhouse continues to make strides towards an early May opening

TGIF: Penticton and South Okanagan events listings

Live theatre, concerts, events, art exhibits and more from around the South Okanagan

Homeless Osoyoos man allegedly doused in ice water while he slept

Community outraged at treatment of well-known homeless community member

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Pet Planet picks up Okanagan’s cannabis for pets

True Leaf Medicine International expands retail distribution to 3,500 stores worldwide

AquaVan comes to Okanagan Science Centre

200-litre mobile touch tank allows you to get up-close with marine invertebrates

Army of support behind Black Press saleswoman battling cancer

GoFundMe helps empower Sue Folliott’s fight

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

No joke: Kelowna’s first zero-waste grocery store to open April 1

Farm Bound Zero Waste has announced its opening date

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Most Read