Mountain Rescue Society shifts focus following big 2018-19 season

SPMRS members Brenden Wanner, Abby Wilson, Erin Menday, Connor Morrison and Sammie Mayor volunteer at the ULLR party. Photo supplied

Sun Peaks Mountain Rescue Society (SPMRS) is shifting its focus from acquiring first aid equipment to facilitating more public education and training.

Last year the non-profit group, with the help of generous donors, purchased over $20,000 worth of first aid gear for the community. This included what founder Chris Mark described as the piece of equipment that started the whole thing, the LifeArm CPR machine.

Mike Billheimer has been a member of SPMRS since its inception.

“In their first two years, SPMRS really spent a lot of their energy fundraising and accruing equipment, and now it seems to be moving into an operational phase where we’re going to spend some time getting instructors trained, put on more courses and build more public awareness,” he said after the group’s annual general meeting on Nov. 4.

The group proposed having two members trained in first aid instruction to begin instructing basic first aid courses for businesses and the community for free or by donation, according to Mark.

Following the success of last year’s CPR and naloxone (Narcan) education evenings, SPMRS also intends to host more free community training events in partnership with Dr. Shane Barclay and the Sun Peaks Health Centre, starting in December.

The group also plans to release first aid kits as a fundraiser, and to extend into other mountain rescue facets.

Mark described the kits as convenient fanny packs that can be stored in cars or backcountry packs.

“We will be investing about $4,000 into a new, publicly accessible, beacon basin for avalanche safety,” Mark said. “We have approached the avalanche team and they’re fully supportive of the project. With the new terrain, which is potentially going to be opening out in Gil’s, and the community’s involvement in backcountry skiing, [it’s] never a bad thing to have.”

“Our mandate is to provide education to the community so it supports our mandate; it doesn’t have to be first aid related,” he clarified.

Not only has the group been busy planning, it’s also had a presence at many pre-season events.

Its members provided first aid coverage at the Ullr fundraiser for the Sun Peaks Skate Park Foundation, and SPMRS equipment was used in pre-season training by Sun Peaks Ski Patrol, Sun Peaks Fire Rescue and the Canadian Ski Patrol.

With the Sun Peaks Hockey League (SPHL) on hiatus this winter, SPMRS has lost a fundraising opportunity to provide first aid and sell refreshments for donation at the weekly hockey meets.

Nevertheless, the group will be beneficiaries of donations raised at the ‘They Call Me Crazy: The Legend of Mike Wiegele’ film release at Masa’s Bar + Grill on Dec. 21, and the NHL All Stars event at Morrisey’s Pub on Jan. 25, which SPMRS is hosting instead of SPHL.

For more details on upcoming events and public education evenings, visit spmountainrescue.com or the SPMRS Facebook page.

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