Arrowsmith Search and Rescue had a busy year in 2015

The search and rescue team is funded strictly by donations and grants in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Lost?

There’s an app for that.

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue had a busier-than-usual year, responding to 38 calls in the last 12 months, according to search manager Gord Yelland.

He said many of those calls were from outdoor enthusiasts visiting Parksville Qualicum Beach who weren’t quite familiar with Vancouver Island’s rugged terrain.

“We’ve had more calls this year from people who are lost saying ‘we think we’re here, this is what our phone says’ — we’ve had more of those calls than ever before,” said Yelland.

“Part of it is people are using their smart phones to access maps to go out and do things and they haven’t done enough research.”

But those very smart phones have also been a saving grace.

Yelland said the local search and rescue branch has been using new software developed by a search and rescue volunteer in Coquitlam known as ‘your location.’

“It allows (Arrowsmith Search and Rescue) to send a text to the subject’s phone,” Yelland explained, noting the subject needs to turn on their GPS. The lost person will receive a text leading the subject to click a link that automatically sends search and rescue their location. “It even plots it on a map for us.”

The technological advancement has been a major help to the local search and rescue branch in the last year.

Yelland said they’ve received calls from a wide array of subjects, from despondent people to seniors with various levels of dementia to lost hikers hailing from all over B.C.

He said one of the more memorable calls came last summer when the search and rescue team was called out to Little Mountain, where a dog had fallen over the mountain. “It took us some time to find it and evacuate it out,” recalled Yelland. “The poor thing had broken its back and we couldn’t do anything to save it.”

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue has 25 active members and runs strictly on donations and grants. This year, Yelland said the organization spent $40,000-$50,000 on search efforts, not including the cost of new equipment.

While critics often suggest people who use search and rescue should be charged for the cost of the service, Yelland disagrees.

“If that policy was brought in we could be creating more problems because it’s not cheap. Some of these calls are very expensive,” said Yelland. “If people get the sense that they’ll be charged for it, they might think ‘we’ll go out and look for them ourselves’ and what could happen is they get themselves in trouble and then we’re looking for two missing parties.”

Yelland said the team is always looking for new members, but warned it’s a big commitment. He noted the organization has lots of positions in administration as well as on the ground.

For more information on Arrowsmith Search and Rescue visit http://www.asar.ca.

Just Posted

Blind Parksville man learns to trust new four-legged partner

Canadian National Institute for the Blind introduces first group of guide dogs

Man in his 60s dies in ATV accident near Cook Creek

BC Coroners Service investigating the death

Qualicum Beach coffee roasters capture silver medal at North American competition

Java masters: French Press Coffee Roasters second in ‘milk-based’ category

Baby, it’s nasty outside: wind and rain will continue across Vancouver Island

Police warn drivers and pedestrians to use precaution during expected rain and winds

Fashion Fridays: How to change your beauty routine

Kim XO, lets you in on her style secrets each Fashion Friday on the Black Press Media Network

Increase in downed power lines in B.C., how to stay safe

BC Hydro study finds a third of British Columbians may be putting themselves at risk

Judge sets bail at $2.5 million in 1987 slaying of B.C. couple

William Talbott II, 55, is charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder

EU leaders vow to press on with ‘no-deal’ Brexit plans

European Union leaders have offered Theresa May sympathy but no promises, as the British prime minister seeks a lifeline.

Powerful winds set to hit Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island

The agency says winds in coastal areas will strengthen up to 70 kilometres an hour before the front moves inland and gusts reach 90 kilometres an hour.

Mandatory victim surcharge cruel and unusual punishment, top court rules

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government made the charges mandatory in 2013.

Tourism minister postpones trip to China amid tensions between two countries

Tourism Minister Melanie Joly’s office says Canada and China have mutually agreed to postpone a closing ceremony next week.

Police across Canada probe bomb threats as U.S. authorities dismiss ‘hoax’

A police spokesman said the emails were the same as those received elsewhere in North America

France shooter killed Thursday during police operation

7 more being held by police in shooting investigation

Most Read