DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Marcel Woodill, president and manager of South Peace Search and Rescue, wants to remind the public to stay safe when adventuring in the great outdoors.
Woodill says the best thing people can do when they go into the backcountry, whether to hunt, hike, fish, or camp, is to fill out a trip plan.
Adventuresmart.ca has an app and an online form to fill out that can be sent to a friend or family so they are aware of the plans, Woodill said.
“They can actually send out an email to a friend so that they have their departure time, the return time and then a list of where they’re going in and other supplies they’ve got,” Woodill explained.
He strongly encourages people to use any safety equipment they have. He also recommends avid outdoorspeople seek out navigation training with a map and compass—or proper use of a GPS.
Search and Rescue runs small presentations on outdoor safety, including the “hug and tree and survive” presentation that teaches young children to seek shelter and stay near a tree until they are found if lost in the woods. Woodill recommends taking advantage of the free resources.
He also advocates for using the three T’s: trip planning, training and taking the essentials.
One of the essentials for spring is bear safety.
“This time of year especially, look at carrying your bear spray or bear deterrent. Be bear safe, and anything you take in, you take back out with you,” he said.
“We always want to leave the world better than we found it.”
He mentions some other essentials to bring, such as water, sunscreen, and bug spray.
“Ideally, whenever anybody goes out for a hike or day trip or anything like that, even if they only plan to go for a couple of hours, they should be carrying a basic first aid kit and a basic 24-hour survival kit,” he stated.
Being prepared is important as it may take search and rescue some time to get to them if the worst happens. It could take up to a day or two. After someone is reported missing, the RCMP must dispatch Search and Rescue. Though the organization operates as quickly as possible the woodlands of northern BC is a massive place.
Search and rescue consists purely of volunteers
“None of us get paid. So we’ll get a call out, we literally drop what we’re doing, walk away from our jobs, our families, and we deploy out to the field,” Woodill said.
He adds that everything they have, from the vests to the radios, is supplied through fundraising, grants or donations. All that they receive from the provincial government is a reimbursement.
“Everyone of our members has a minimum of a 96-hour basic qualification course, and from there, they move on to other things, team leaders or search managers, which I am,” Woodill said.
He says that all of their training is delivered by volunteers as well. “Myself, I teach the ground search and rescue course,” he explained.
“When we bring in our new recruits, we end up teaching them and training them up to the standard that we’re given.”
Lastly, he wanted to remind the public that the Search and Rescue services are free.
“Search and rescue doesn’t bill anybody.”