Kamloops Search and Rescue continues to look for new members

By Vanessa Ybarra
May 18, 2017 - 5:45pm

KAMLOOPS — It's a job that comes with time commitments and responsibilities and it can be both dangerous and challenging.

Kamloops Search and Rescue is in the midst of a recruitment drive and is looking to attract as many as 15 new members to its team.

With this past winter being one of its busiest, the search for members is extremely important.

More than 35 people make up the group right now, ranging from retired firefighters to police officers to government officials and more, it's hoped the recruitment process will help the team build on its numbers.

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"It's a call that can happen anytime, anywhere.

"You have to like jumping out of bed in the middle of the night when the phone rings and that's not for everyone," said Alan Hobler, Search Manager with Kamloops Search and Rescue.

Every year Kamloops Search and Rescue holds a recruitment session to bring on new members, with the group hoping to recruit up to 15 new volunteers.

"We're basically just looking for an average person," said Hobler. "We don't need a super athlete or somebody with technical skills. We're just looking for someone that's able to donate a significant amount of time to search and rescue. We usually require about 200 hours a year." 

Hobler has been with Kamloops Search and Rescue for seven years.

While KSAR plays a pivotal role in rescuing lost hikers and injured skiers throughout the Kamloops region, he says the role is more tactical than dramatic.

"Sometimes going into it, you think you're going to be a hero and be able to rescue people when in reality, that's not really the case," said Hobler. "Usually we're assisting with rescues or helping people get located. The people on the team I work with are just fantastic. It's just spending time with some really great people."

And then there are the pooches.

Like most canine handlers, Mike Ritcey and Juno spend almost every waking minute together.

The nine-year-old Lab has been a part of KSAR's canine unit for almost her entire life. 

"There are only about 25 civilian dogs in the province that are validated," said Ritcey. "We've done a lot of searches together."

Juno logs more than 600 rescue hours a year but she's set to hang up her vest and retire in June.

This year has been especially tough for Ritcey, with KSAR's two-year-old pup Ruby passing away from cancer earlier this month.

"It was devastating," added Ritcey.

Along with new members, Kamloops Search and Rescue is looking to recruit a new four-legged member. 

"I'm looking for a dog that's really wired because it's easier to bring a dog's energy down than up," said Ritcey. "The brother to Ruby has sired a batch of pups and hopefully there's a yellow female in there."

Rescue hours are unpredictable, but for these volunteers, it's a call they're proud to answer. 

"For me, it's a passion," said Hobler. "I just love getting that phone call in the morning and jumping out of bed."

To apply to be a Kamloops Search and Rescue member, visit ksar.ca

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