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Ridge Meadows SAR has new base of operations

West Canyon Command fully functioning in Golden Ears park
The site given to RMSAR has space for helicopters to land. (Special to The News)

Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue has a new base of operations in Golden Ears Provincial Park, in time for its busiest season, and following its busiest year.

About a year ago, North Shore Rescue donated a portable from their CAP Gate SAR station. It has been moved into Golden Ears Park, outfitted with a new deck and cover, and re-styled the West Canyon Command.

SAR manager Rick Laing said it provides a designated radio and planning room as well as a rest and sleeping area.

BC Parks has also given the team an open area where two helicopters can land, and there is space to park SAR trucks, trailers and team members personal vehicles.

“It’s an ideal location for us,” said Laing.

With COVID-19 and the demand for social distancing, operating out of the search truck can be challenging at times, he said.

“The West Canyon Command makes it easier to run tasks and with COVID it makes it easier and safer,” said Laing. “It can get a little cramped in the truck when a lot of things are happening.”

“I really want to thank North Shore for making the donation to us.”

As COVID-19 restrictions pushed people to explore outdoors, it also drew GSAR (ground search) groups out to a record number of requests to assist the public.

“Our search and rescue volunteers in B.C. are world class, and they’ve continued to prove that through the challenge of a global pandemic,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “They jump into action in dangerous circumstances and inclement weather to protect public safety, and COVID-19 has only made their jobs harder. It’s our duty as British Columbians to protect them by ensuring we’ve taken safety precautions and are well-prepared for the unexpected when heading into the backcountry.”

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge firefighters rescue two in separate incidents over Easter long weekend

Between April 2020 and April 2021, B.C.’s GSAR groups were deployed 1,959 times – an increase of nearly 25 per cent when compared to previous years. Prior to this, B.C.’s GSAR attended an average of roughly 1,500 responses annually – more than the rest of Canada combined.

READ ALSO: Avalanche danger increases on Golden Ears as weather improves

“B.C.’s 79 GSAR groups have been pushed to their limits,” said Chris Kelly, president of the BC Search and Rescue Association. “COVID-19 has made risky work even more dangerous for each individual. I implore anyone heading out into the elements to do their part by planning ahead. Make sure you’re prepared for where you’re going – have a plan, have the right gear, know how to use it and take the training.”

It is important to prepare for the unexpected when heading outdoors, regardless of weather. While spring begins to arrive in some of B.C.’s valleys, winter conditions persist in the alpine.

To help get prepared see

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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