Kimberley Search and Rescue president Peter Reid wants the public to understand that they will not be faced with a bill if they need to be rescued, so get the call to 911 in as soon as possible. Photo courtesy Kimberley Search and Rescue Facebook.

Waiting to call 911 for fear of incurring fee can be ‘catastrophic’: Kimberley SAR

Call for help right away in an emergency and know you’ll never be charged

Kimberley Search and Rescue President Peter Reid would like to once again convey the important, potentially life-saving message to the public that people do not need to pay for their services if they need help.

Reid said there are two main things people seem to misunderstand when it comes to SAR, one being that it is a completely volunteer-run organization and the other that they do not ever charge for rescue. SAR is effectively a service provided by the B.C. government and either the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) or the RCMP are responsible with tasking SAR if the 911 call merits it.

READ MORE: Kimberley Search and Rescue successfully evacuates stranded person

If people do delay calling 911 for fear of incurring a hefty charge, Reid says the results can be “catastrophic.”

“I don’t think people recognize the safety requirements that we have as an organization before we’re allowed to respond,” he explained. “The other problem of course is the drama of T.V. would show that we’ll put on our red capes and run out there at any time of the day and without regard for ourselves, which is just not true.”

One of the hindrances is that BC SAR isn’t able to respond by helicopter at night, the only volunteer helicopter search and rescue group in B.C. with the capability to do so is North Star. According to Reid, they are currently running a specialized helicopter equipped with infrared equipment. The rest of the organizations need to wait until daylight.

They are able to respond at night if there are no avalanche conditions present, so the risk in their response diminishes as we get into the spring and summer. They do, however still have to consider the safety of their members.

“We would much prefer to be notified immediately and I can tell you that BCEHS would feel the same way as well as the RCMP,” Reid said.

He gave the example of Canmore woman Patricia Paul who fell down a steep, icy slope while hiking in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park on March 27 and was severely injured.

“Her response was delayed because nobody had cell service, and would have had to hike back almost to the highway to get reception. Can you imagine if they didn’t want to call anybody and waited for the next day,” Reid said. “It would be catastrophic. So it’s hugely important that people understand that they should feel comfortable to at least call 911 and get the process started.”

SAR teams’ response time can vary greatly. Reid explained that first BCEHS would receive the initial call and go out to the scene in an ambulance and would then evaluate the scene and determine whether or not to call for assistance from SAR.

This means that it could be up to an hour and a half before SAR is even notified. Reid said his initial response team is always at the ready and can be on the road within 15 to 20 minutes, but then if it’s another hour or hour and a half to get to the scene, the injured person has now been waiting for at least three hours.

“Now it didn’t take us an hour and half to get there, but it took us a while to get out there and you can imagine that that person is now in a position where there’s not a lot that can be done for them until we can evacuate them,” Reid explained. “It’s the middle of the night, we can’t use a helicopter, otherwise we would have long-lined her out of there.”

In this particular rescue, the team had to put the severely injured Paul into a basket stretcher and walk her up the side of the slope with three attendants maneuvering around large boulders. BCEHS did a great job, Reid said, as they had a med-e-vac ready and waiting in Fairmont that transported her away for more advanced care.

“So all of those pieces work together, but we are in the back country, people need to understand that it could be quite a long time before help’s going to be there and lots of cases we’re going to be called as an afterthought.”

This is why it’s so important to make the call to 911 as soon as possible in an emergency situation. You will not be charged and it could make a tremendous difference in how and when you are rescued.



paul.rodgers@kimberleybulletin

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Search and Rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Interfor’s Castlegar mill is getting $35 million in upgrades. Photo by: John Boivin
Interfor to invest $35 million at Castlegar mill

Project will enhance productivity and competitiveness

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton, the historians behind popular Facebook page Lost Kootenays, are set to release a book of the same name and have just unveiled its cover showing the ghostly Hotel in Slocan City shortly before its 1953 demolition. Photo courtesy of Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton.
Popular historical Facebook page Lost Kootenays set to release book

128-page hard copy documenting history of East and West Kootenays coming this fall

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Most Read