Hope Volunteer Search and Rescue responded to a 2018 crash on the Coquihalla Highway involving at least four semi-trucks, four buses and 11 private vehicles. The team is now looking for road rescue team members. Hope Search and Rescue photo

Hope rescue crew looking for volunteers to specialize in road rescues

Hope SAR gets 60 to 80 road calls annually, including over-embankment rescues and extrications

Hope Volunteer Search and Rescue are one of the only rescue groups in B.C. who do both road and ground search and rescue calls, and the group are now recruiting people to join the team to specialize in road rescues.

The 26-member-strong team of volunteers are in need of people who will be able to drop what they are doing, whether it be a special occasion, a hot meal, sleep or work, to attend to one of the 60 to 80 road rescue calls that come in to the group each year. It takes a certain kind of person, said Noelle Hartt, who does communciations for the group as well as attending many calls along local highways.

“For me, it’s probably from my background with my father also being in fire and served as a rescue paramedic…So it takes someone that just (wants) to be giving back and using your skills,” she said.

The ‘organized chaos’ of a rescue may also appeal to some people, Noelle added. And the critical component that makes it all work is a group of strong peers, as well as taking mental health seriously as some of the scenes they encounter can be horrific she said. The group has access to critical incident stress management for the team, an intervention tool for those dealing with traumatic events.

Once on scene, search and rescue (SAR) members may give first aid if ambulance personnel are not present or unable to get down to the patient. The team, who attend all accidents where extrication or over-embankment rescues are needed, will work to stabilize patients and stabilize the vehicles involved. Extrication tools are used, commonly known by the name of one of those tools – the Jaws of Life – stored on two trucks the team has access to should more than one rescue be occuring simultaneously. The team attends calls on Highways 1, 3, 5 and 7.

In preparation for road rescues, the Hope SAR team do an intense 2.5 day classroom training then get to work on simulated accident scenes possibly involving several cars crushed together, buses and semi trucks. The volunteers practice popping open doors, dealing with air bags, how to deal with different kinds of vehicles such as Teslas, how to set up when on scene and how to use the tools.

Despite having all of Hope SAR’s members trained on road rescue, the need is there for people who can help out especially during daytime hours. A core group of four to five volunteers attend nearly all calls, but Noelle said avoiding the risk of burnout is critical by beefing up the volunteer force.

Other requirements are for the volunteer to be 18 years or older and be strong and fit both in body and mind. This shouldn’t limit older people from applying Noelle said, adding that some of the members in their 60s are fitter than some of the younger recruits.

Those interested can drop by the SAR base at 940 Fraser Ave. on Wednesdays between 7 and 9 p.m. to get a tour and pick up an application form. Any questions can be sent to president@hopesar.ca.

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Hope Search and Rescue are recruiting for their road rescue crew. (Hope SAR)

Hope Volunteer Search and Rescue trains members on the set-up, tools and actions involved in road rescues. (HSAR photo)

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