Members of Central Cariboo Search and Rescue practice flat ice water rescue on Williams Lake Sunday, March 31. They plan to do another session before the ice totally melts. Photo submitted

CCSAR members hone flat ice rescue skills

The ice on Williams Lake provides the perfect classroom

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue will be using Williams Lake for flat ice rescue training as long as the ice lasts.

“Some of our members were there last Sunday doing some flat ice rescue practice to keep up on their skills,” said Debra Bortolussi, PR and social media co-ordinator for CCSAR. “Especially now that the things are starting to warm up and the ice is starting to get thinner it’s a great time to be practicing.”

In the next few weeks, members will be out for another Sunday morning practice.

“We call them perishable skills. If you don’t use it you lose it,” Bortolussi said. “We have a dedicated group of people that have no problem giving up their Sunday to go out and practice and make sure those skills are ready to use when needed.”

This winter CCSAR put some emphasis on flat ice training.

A group went to Kamloops for training and another group went out west to Martin Lake and trained with West Chilcotin Search and Rescue.

“They did some flat ice rescue training technician exercises for standing water on lakes and some flat ice training for slow moving rivers and creeks.”

In the last few months CCSAR has gained 10 new members.

Bortolussi said one new person signed up in December and another nine members after the CCSAR member drive in February.

Read more: CCSAR recruiting new members, hosting open house Saturday Feb. 9

A land search and rescue member, Bortolussi is the PR and social co-ordinator for CCSAR.

“People don’t always realize the wide range of what search and rescue provides for the community. We are volunteers, we are not getting paid, and we do this because we want to give back.”

Upcoming training opportunities will see the members doing swift water rescue technician training later in June.

“We have close to 10 members who are going to be getting trained. We will doing it locally and see what rivers we can get on to. It will all depend on what the river levels look like. It would be good to do the training locally because those are some of the rivers we may actually be called to do rescues on.”

Additionally, 10 to 15 members will be doing General Ground Search And Rescue Certification training some time in April where they will learn the fundamentals and basics, such as helicopter safety, types of searches, the politics of whose in charge in a search and what happens during a search, who activates CCSAR, as well as using a map and compass and a GPS.

“We have our own trainer, Dawn Unruh, who went away and did some training and we also have members who know lots about a certain aspect that they can teach,” Bortolussi said. “We all work together.”

Three members were certified in general ground search rescue certification recently.

“They took the course in town and showed upwards of three days a week, even full weekends to get the it done,” she added. “They just completed their overnighter and their final exam and they are full certified.”

The overnighter involves going outside of cell service, fully alone, with only what they carry in their go pack.

“They always love it, which is good, because it was fairly cold when they went out.”

Land SAR practices on Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m. and auto-extrication practices on Thursdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m. all at the SAR hall on Mackenzie Avenue.

Read more: CCSAR adds jet boat to its fleet



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