While the Central Cariboo Search and Rescue hall is all quiet on the western front, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic the crew has adapted operations to keep members and the public safe. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

While the Central Cariboo Search and Rescue hall is all quiet on the western front, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic the crew has adapted operations to keep members and the public safe. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue implements adaptive measures for COVID-19 response

In an effort to respond to emergencies during the COVID-19 pandemic Central Cariboo Search and Rescue (CCSAR) began making some changes several weeks ago.

“We were very proactive due to the leadership of our Chief Rick White,” said CCSAR media spokesperson Debra Bortolussi. “When Rick saw what was happening in Europe we had phone call meeting, cancelled practices and divided our crews into response teams.”

Each team has a chief, a manager, a team leader and four to six members.

Teams rotate, taking turns being on call.

Between the existing auto-ex and land-sar teams there are enough managers, she added.

“Let’s say team A goes to a call and the dispatcher indicates the patient has flu-like symptoms or COVID-19. Crew members would wear protective gear, attend the patient, and then go off duty and all get tested if needed,” Bortolussi explained.

Crews are wiping down all gear, trucks and clothing after a call before re-entering the CCSAR hall on Mackenzie Avenue to limit exposure.

Read more: COVID-19: Williams Lake resident encourages everyone to ‘make some noise’ for essential workers

They responded to a motor vehicle incident on Monday, March 23, on Highway 20, with one team and another one on backup.

“We encourage the public to make sure and let the 911 dispatcher know if you have flu symptoms if you are calling for aid,” Bortolussi said.

Search and rescue units, police, ambulance, fire departments and hospitals cannot just close the door, she added.

“We were very fortunate to have been proactive and taken the situation seriously right away.”

All crew members are volunteers.

Read more: CCSAR and neighbouring SAR members acquire ice rescue certification


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