WISAR team members at a recent helicopter entry and exit training day. (WISAR photo)

Westcoast Inland Search and Rescue seeks new recruits

Open House events on Sept. 10 in Ucluelet and Sept. 11 in Tofino.

Westcoast Inland Search and Rescue (WISAR) is recruiting for their fall 2019 intake.

To pique people’s interest, they are encouraging West Coasters to stop by one of two open house events they are hosting next week.

Ucluelet’s is on Tuesday, Sept. 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the community centre. Tofino’s takes place at the WISAR Hall (620 Industrial Way) on Wednesday, Sept. 11 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We are looking for community-minded individuals who don’t mind being woken up in the middle of the night to go tromp through the dense coastal brush,” said WISAR president Marcie DeWitt.

“Our ideal applicants are people who are active outdoors, have or are willing to acquire some decent outdoor gear as we are often training and responding in all weather conditions. Knowledge of the local area and skills around first aid, navigation and survival are a benefit to the team. These are also part of our training so we don’t want to discourage anyone who is new to some of these topics and willing to learn.”

WISAR had about five callouts this summer. On average, they get approximately 15 to 20 per year, said DeWitt.

“The time commitment for call outs varies immensely depending on the situation, call outs can be resolved in less than an hour or go on for multiple days, which requires SAR volunteers working in shifts,” said DeWitt, adding volunteers use their own discretion as to whether they can participate in a call out or not.

WISAR recruits need to commit to an intense Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) training program, which involves navigation (map, compass, GPS), communications, wilderness survival skills, swift water and helicopter awareness training, tracking and rope awareness, first aid, patient packaging and transport and search skills.

“Familiarization hikes” to common recreation areas also takes up a large portion of the basic GSAR training.

“We have had practice exercises up Lone Cone, the Bomber Trail, in the mountains towards Port Alberni and on Vargas Island,” said DeWitt. “Volunteering with WISAR is a unique and challenging experience in many good ways. I really value the opportunity to apply my outdoor skills to new situations and the training I have received, it has made me more comfortable on my own adventures and in the SAR environment.”

The small team of approximately 25 active members spans a huge range of abilities, from certified rope technicians to certified search and rescue Dog Handlers.

Anyone interested in getting involved with WISAR is encouraged to make their way to one of the open house events or send an email to: info.wisar@gmail.com.


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