Arrowsmith Search and Rescue (ASAR) were kept busy on Saturday, Nov. 20, with back-to-back callouts.
The first, received just before 4 p.m., had 13 search and rescue members dispatched by RCMP to locate a missing Parksville woman, in her mid-30s.
Nick Rivers, a search and rescue manager with the organization, said she was reported missing in town, and had ASAR members working in conjunction with police to locate her. He said she was considered overdue, in that she hadn’t returned home after a walk. Rivers described the woman as being “turned-around” in the area, had been missing for approximately two hours before she was found in good condition in an urban area by police.
“We had teams out in vehicles canvassing areas that way. In this case, we couldn’t do a cellphone ping since she didn’t have a phone with her,” said Rivers.
He said that, for 2021 so far, ASAR has conducted 23 searches for missing people in the encompassing Parksville Qualicum Beach region.
“August was super busy for us this year. The summertime is definitely more busy with rescues. The fall seems to be more busy with searches,” he said.
The second callout, received approximately 30 seconds after ASAR members returned from Parksville, was dispatched by the Regional District of Nanaimo and had 15 members called out to the south end of Winchester Road in Coombs.
A bank that held a retaining wall underneath a bridge was eroded by water, causing the bridge to be unsafe to drive over.
ASAR members went on foot for approximately four hours to notify area residents what had happened and to make sure they had provisions for several days.
“For us, one of the things is if there was a medical emergency on the other side,” said Rivers. “Obviously, fire and ambulance can’t get there, so we want to know how many people are there and whatever property challenges there are, and what medical equipment we might need. So we had a bit of a pre-plan in place, should there have been a medical event on the other side.”
Fortunately, there were no emergencies that required attention.
Rivers said concurrent callouts happen “more often than you would think” and that in 2021 they’ve had three different back-to-back or simultaneous callouts so far.