While waiting for direction from the BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA), Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) paused in-person training during the COVID-19 pandemic and opted for online refreshers.
However, training resumed briefly on Aug. 28 and 29 with KSAR’s first significant drill since the pandemic began with another scheduled for Sept. 18.
Thirteen KSAR volunteers congregated at Inks Lake to practise land grid searches, which is where rescuers space themselves in regular intervals and search for clues.
Earlier in August, four out of 12 total swiftwater rescue specialists refreshed their techniques on the Adams River.
Swiftwater rescue specialists are deemed one of KSAR’s essential services due to the large number of surrounding rivers and lakes in the area.
The specialists re-familiarized themselves with rowing whitewater rafts, and practised skills including river reading and hazard assessment, live rescue throw-bagging and swimming skills.
Cat LaPointe, secretary for KSAR, said this year there have been six SAR calls for water related rescues.
The nature of the rescues included overturned boats, potential drownings and “more intensive searches and rescues.”
“Swiftwater specialists have to maintain a certain number of hours of training per year to make sure their skills are sharp and second nature,” LaPointe said.
Because of this, the high concentration of water bodies in the area and the danger associated with water related rescues, the swiftwater team was allowed to conduct more in-person training over the pandemic whereas more generalized rescue teams pivoted to mainly online learning.
LaPointe added other essential training such as rope rescue and K9 rescue will continue but other in-person training will be tricky with the possibility of a fourth pandemic wave this fall further pausing other in-person training as per BCSARA ‘s direction.