Search & Rescue kept busy over holidays

It's been a busy week at Cranbrook Search and Rescue, as the team went from one slippery scene to another.

It’s been a busy week at Cranbrook Search and Rescue, as the team went from one slippery scene to another.

Nick Bedwell, Ground Search and Rescue Training Officer and public relations representative for Cranbrook SAR said the team was using two trucks over the weekend to attend all the scenes they were called to.

“We usually get a day or two like this every year,” he said.

But not all of those calls were emergency situations, some involved already cleared scenes.

“A lot of it is just people driving past and just calling it in,” Bedwell said.

When the RCMP have cleared a scene, they will tie a piece of flagging tape to it. Bedwell is urging the public to make sure there is no tape before calling in to 911 to report an accidents.

“If you see flagging, it’s been checked,” he said.

If there is no tape, Bedwell suggests stopping and checking for people in the vehicle if it is safe to do so. Be sure to tell 911 that there is no one in the vehicle if that is the case. That way the dispatcher can send the proper emergency personnel and it saves the Cranbrook SAR team a trip.

“If it’s not marked, stop, call 911,” Bedwell said.

When a call comes in, a team of five volunteer SAR members will head to the hall and leave in one of two heavily equipped SAR trucks. Over the weekend following Christmas, Bedwell said they had both their trucks operating to attend all the calls and allow one team to rest.

“We did have two trucks going over the weekend,” he said.

Speeding to accident teams to help the victims is dangerous work for all emergency personnel. Bedwell said that icy roads are just as dangerous for highly trained emergency drivers.

“With the roads the way they are, when we’re going out there with lights and sirens, it is dangerous,” he said.

The scene itself can also be hazardous for SAR teams, RCMP officers, firefighters and ambulance paramedics. Bedwell asks that drivers slow down when they see an accident scene, and remember that the road conditions could be icy.

When the Highway SAR team attends a scene, they will conduct vehicle extractions or rope rescues if need be. A rope rescue is generally used when a vehicle has come to rest in a deep ditch, or down an embankment. Bedwell said they haven’t had to perform any rope rescues over the Christmas holidays.

Usually one truck and five SAR members will attend, but if the scene is bad enough they will send two teams and two vehicles.