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PQB mother-daughter teams make difference with search and rescue group

Garrow and Knutson teams wish they had joined ASAR earlier
From left: Mikaela Knutson, Kandace Knutson, Pam Garrow and Mikaela Garrow volunteer with Arrowsmith Search and Rescue. (ASAR photo)

Two mother-daughter teams are helping Arrowsmith Search and Rescue (ASAR) make a difference in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.

Mikaela Garrow and Pamela Garrow joined ASAR less than a year apart, after being encouraged by seeing family and friends get involved over the years.

“In the past, my brother was actually involved with the team,” said Mikaela Garrow. “I felt pretty inspired seeing him, what he was involved in and just doing something positive for the community.”

Pamela said she was interested in search and rescue for a long time, but when her daughter signed up, it gave her extra motivation.

“I wish I’d done it years ago. I waited too long,” she said.

The Garrows’ experiences are part of what motivated ASAR’s other mother-daughter team to join. Mikaela Knutson thought she wasn’t enough of an outdoors person, but after her mom, Kandace, and childhood best friend Mikaela Garrow got involved, she decided it was time.

“I joined as support just to get a feel for the organization and see if it was something that I could bring value to,” said Mikaela Knutson, who recently became fully qualified as a ground search and rescue member (GSAR). “It’s totally not what either of us would have thought we would be doing.”

The Knutsons both joined in 2020, but in different intakes. They have attended many callouts together, including a incident where they were the first to reach two lost hikers.

The hikers had attempted to hike up Wesley Ridge Trail, but ended up lost on a trail likely created by animals—what hikers call a “goat trail”—which took them further and further up the hill. Since it was getting late in the day and they were not dressed for cooler weather, they did the right thing and called for help before it got dark.

READ MORE: Little Mountain rescue highlights importance of ASAR’s ‘Rescue Ready’ campaign

Mikaela and Kandace, with their team leader, hiked up the other side of the ridge and found the hikers cold, tired, hungry and happy to be rescued.

The Garrows have also gone out on many calls together, but said they were apart for the most memorable rescues so far.

“Mikaela’s been in a helicopter and I haven’t,” Pamela said with a chuckle.

Mikaela Garrow was with a team sent out to find a family who had been riding ATVs up to a lookout on a bluff, when an ATV rolled, injuring its rider.

“So as a quick response we, a couple teams, got dropped off by helicopter to get there nice and fast,” Mikaela said.

Pam said her most memorable calls include a difficult rescue on the Little Qualicum River (her first call) and a recent rescue on Little Mountain, which gave her the chance to put her newly-learned rope team skills into action.

“I just love it. I wish I could do it as a full-time job,” Pam said.

Don’t worry if you’re not a huge outdoors person, she added, anyone who is willing to volunteer their time can fill a role with ASAR.

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Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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