Search and Rescue Manager at Sparwood SAR, Ed Ehrler is a Public Safety Lifeline volunteer award winner in 2020. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Search and Rescue Manager at Sparwood SAR, Ed Ehrler is a Public Safety Lifeline volunteer award winner in 2020. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Only seven call-outs for Sparwood SAR

Folks were recreating responsibly in 2020

Despite the increase in folks hitting the backcountry and recreating at home, Sparwood Search and Rescue only have seven call-outs this year, which Search and Rescue manager, Ed Ehrler said was “lower than usual.”

“Just one of those mystery things,” he said, explaining that only two of the call-outs were in the local Sparwood area while the other five were mutual aid to other groups.

Recruiting was where the news was, said Ehrler, who said that they have nine new members in training, “which will be a great addition to the 25 operational members we currently have.”

One of the main activities of 2020 was training, he said.

“We have to rust-proof our resources. We don’t want people to get rusty, they need to keep their skills up. We make sure we’re doing a lot of training and making sure out training is realistic.

“Even though we haven’t had that many call outs, our volunteers as a whole have put in about 2,500 person hours this year between all of our members.

“Its a matter of keeping our volunteers engaged, and making sure we build and maintain our teamwork.”

On the calls that they did receive, Ehrler said that folks recreating in the Elk Valley had been pretty responsible so far, but winter would throw up some challenges.

“We are a bit concerned about what we might see with backcountry use this winter with the ski hills running lower on capacity. We have been hearing reports on a big uptick of a lot more purchases of backcountry equipment and stuff like that (but) On the plus side, we’re also hearing there’s been a real uptick in the numbers of backcountry safety gear and safety training as well.

“Back country recreation is a great outlet, especially at a time like this. But at the same time we really want people to keep the level of risk low, because it keeps ours down as well.”

Earlier in the year, Ehrler was himself awarded the Public Safety Lifeline volunteer award for Search and Rescue in recognition of his exceptional contributions to emergency and disaster response efforts in BC.

READ MORE: Sparwood’s Ed Ehrler wins Public Safety Lifeline award
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