Saving lives in the great outdoors: search and rescue team seeks recruits

Rainy, midnight rescue operations in the woods aren't for everyone — but if you don't mind working odd hours and want to help people in desperate situations, volunteering with Charlotte County Ground Search and Rescue could be for you.

The organization regularly assists the RCMP with finding missing people — generally, "people who have gotten turned around in the woods, or people who have gone off into the woods and don't want to be found," according to field team leader Brian Owens.

Volunteers are trained in first aid and search techniques, then answer calls whenever they receive them — at any time of day, in any weather.

Emergencies, missing people

This winter, the Charlotte County team helped the EMO with the ice storm recovery on the Acadian Peninsula, "going door-to-door checking on people, making sure they had everything and were safe," Owens said.

On March 6, the team helped rescued a family whose side-by-side had broken down when they were driving in the woods with their child just north of St. George.

"They realized they couldn't get back out and called 911," Owens said. "We had a decent idea where they were and because they had their phone with them, we were able to narrow down where they were.

"It was a great feeling when they finally got out of the woods around 4:30 a.m."

Seeking new recruits

The Charlotte County Ground Search and Rescue Team has 15 members; they're hoping to add 10 more new recruits. The time commitment is two meetings per month, plus any searches that arise.

Even those who "don't want to be out walking through the woods in the rain at night can still help us out," Owens said.

In addition to frontline searchers, the team is seeking command post staff and auxiliary volunteers to help keep the team running smoothly. For those who aren't in Charlotte County but are still interested in helping out, "wherever you are in the province there's a local team," Owens said.

"If you like the outdoors, the training is an opportunity to get out and enjoy nice weather," he said. "And you get a good feeling to have helped people."

An information session will be held by the Charlotte County Ground Search and Rescue next Wednesday, March 22, at 7 p.m. at the Oak Bay community hall on Route 170.

A criminal record check and vulnerable sector check are required to join. Forms will be available on site.