The timing of Del Rokosh’s letter (‘Charge the lost,’ The NEWS, Oct. 22) could hardly be better. Having been called out on a search in Errington for a lost mushroom picker at3 a.m. last week, the importance of good practice in the outdoors was, once again, highlighted.
The lost person had become disoriented and caught out by darkness. Although fairly well prepared, he had broken his flashlight and lighter when he took a fall in dense, rotting slash. Having already lapsed in and out of consciousness because of hypothermia, he would have been unable to respond if there had been much further delay in finding him.
This is one of the main reasons that no SAR group locally supports charging for call outs. If we had been searching for an unconscious subject we simply would not have found him until it was too late and, in fact, he may have been undiscovered for weeks or months. Searchers would, rather than just losing a night’s sleep, have spent several days combing the bush over a large potential search area with success being defined as finding a corpse, rather than bringing a family member home to those who care about him.
People will, without doubt, delay calling for help if they believe they’ll be charged. The search area will have widened exponentially and searches will go on far longer and with far greater cost. Sadly, in spite of this greater investment, people’s lives will be lost on a more regular basis.
If there were one thing I would like to see done differently, it is for everyone to carry some basic safety equipment, even on short daytime hikes on local trails. If the subject of this latest search had been carrying a whistle, our team would have been able to pinpoint his location and end the search around an hour earlier. Please do take advantage of someone else’s misfortune, and use it as a lesson on how to avoid it happening to you.
Michael Addiscott, Ground SearchTeam Leader, Arrowsmith Search and RescueQualicum Beach