This fall Central Cariboo Search and Rescue appointed Laurel White as one of their youngest captains ever to serve under her father, chief Rick White.
Laurel, 22, has been an official member of CCSAR for the last two and a half years and grew up around the rescue hall throughout her childhood, as her father Rick is a longtime member of the organization. When not volunteering her time at CCSAR Laurel works as a harm reduction co-ordinator at the Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake. She said that she’s very lucky her job has the flexibility to allow her to drop whatever she’s doing when an emergency call comes in and “race out the door like a crazy person.”
CCSAR is split into two main teams, Laurel said, including their land, search and rescue team for lost hikers and other similar emergencies and their auto-extraction team who responds to car accidents. Laurel works with the auto extraction team and their flat ice rescue team when individuals fall through the ice.
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“I like the atmosphere of CCSAR. I like to help people, that’s always been in my nature… I originally did want to do something in the medical field but I was fortunate enough to get my start at the Boys and Girls Club which is my dream job, working in that field,” Laurel said.
Hearing and seeing how much she can help people both in her job and work in CCSAR is what makes everything Laurel does worth it, she said. Being the person that’s there for people during their worst time, like when being cut out of a car wreck, is incredibly rewarding.
The promotion to captain has been very exciting for Laurel as she enjoys being put into a new role with more responsibility that requires her to learn more about helping others.
“Being a captain is huge to me. You get a lot more responsibility, you’re someone who people look up to… if chief Rick isn’t on the scene, or one of our chiefs isn’t on the scene, you step up and take the incident command lead,” Laurel said. “I eventually, one day, would like to be chief of search and rescue. One day, I will be there.”
Laurel views CCSAR as a second family that’s always there for you and she thinks that what it stands for and provides the community is absolutely amazing.
Her father, Rick, meanwhile, has been a member of CCSAR for 23 years and said this promotion came about after a couple of their captains moved away. While thinking about who to make captain it was other CCSAR members, not him, who thought of and suggested Laurel first.
“I was a little bit shocked at it because I’m her dad and I seemed to think she wasn’t ready and I don’t want to create favouritism,” Rick said. “So I phoned a few other members and they agreed she was ready.”
Since joining after the wildfires of 2017, Laurel has been a solid member of the team, Rick said, that brings a lot of assets and skills to the table. Her career in counselling has made her able to easily, calmly and quietly explain situations to people during a rescue, making things easier for everyone.
After consulting with more members, Rick decided to give her the nod and promote her to captain. While he said it’s strange sometimes to be working with her, he’s proud of all she’s accomplished in such a short period of time.
Upon hearing of her aspirations to be chief, Rick chuckled and said she has a ways to go yet but that one day he thinks she will be ready.