Nick Rivers. (PQB News file photo)

Nick Rivers. (PQB News file photo)

OPINION: Heroic act shows value of our fine search and rescue personnel

Rivers and crew deserving of all accolades

The word ‘hero’ is often bandied about too casually.

It’s sometimes attached to pop stars or athletes, people who, while worthy of our attention and admiration in many cases, just don’t quite fit the bill.

People who potentially put their lives on the line every day in service of others are our real heroes. Whether it be military personnel, police, firefighters, frontline workers during a pandemic (we really do have a lot of heroes in that category), they much better fit how the word should be defined.

We can certainly slot Nick Rivers and his fellow Arrowsmith Search and Rescue colleagues in there too after what unfolded Saturday.

Rivers surely saved the life of another man on Saturday, helping to pull him from the frigid waters in Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park.

Rivers bravely and selflessly rappelled into the raging Little Qualicum River to rescue the man.

Two days later, he was humbly downplaying his efforts.

“I’m doing alright. Sore, but it comes with the territory,” said Rivers, search and rescue manager of Arrowsmith SAR and a Parksville business owner.

READ MORE: Arrowsmith SAR’s Nick Rivers reflects on harrowing rescue of man from Little Qualicum River

He might be downplaying things, but the rest of us should be shouting his praises from the rooftops.

BC Search and Rescue Association treasurer Jim McAllister said “the outcome could have been quite a bit different.”

“In this case there was the anchorage there for the ropes, properly trained members that were trained in both rope rescue and swift water. If they were not available or if that site had been further away from their equipment and access… the team on-site might have made the decision not to go into the water.”

Fortunately for the hypothermic man plucked from the water, he was surrounded by both bravery and expertise.

The reception from the general public that Rivers received following the rescue has been all positive. He jokingly said he is “having a hard time keeping up with the fame.”

He deserves it and he did note that being in the public’s eye does “bode well” for the Arrowsmith SAR’s current fundraiser for their new hall, saying that “the attention couldn’t hurt,” but he didn’t want to push the agenda.

The group has asked for public assistance with the $1.2-million project, with member Stuart Kirk telling the PQB News the call volume has doubled over the last decade.

The project’s price seems a small price to pay for saving lives.

Well done to all involved in the rescue.

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