SAR Goes Over the Edge

A mutually beneficial collaboration between Shawnigan Lake School and Cowichan Search and Rescue saw students going over the edge — literally — in a slope rescue scenario at Stoney Hill Regional Park west of Duncan.
Nine students, three Cowichan SAR members and two Shawnigan staff members took part in the session, the 10th of 16 sessions the School SAR team is conducting with Cowichan SAR this year.
“Upon returning from Ski Week we will complete our sessions, still focusing on rope rescue but also adding in aspects of swiftwater rescue, such as throw bagging, foot entrapment procedures, and what live bait rescues entail,” explained Outdoor Education Coordinator Ms. Jessica Dick.
Hattie H., a Grade 11 student and veteran member of the Shawnigan SAR team, commented about the terrific opportunity the students get from working with Cowichan SAR.
"It has been a cool learning experience,” she said. “In my third year of SAR, I have continued learning techniques and from Cowichan SAR about their adventures and the amount of time it takes them to learn their skills."
Cowichan SAR is responsible for search and rescue operations in a wide area, from the Malahat summit in the south to the Chemainus River in the north, including the Shawnigan Lake area. Ms. Dick sees many benefits in a partnership between the School and Cowichan SAR.
“Whenever there is a call, they are the ones who receive it and provide support,” she commented. “We wanted to provide students with this off-campus training to open their eyes to new perspectives, in particular ones on how to be safe themselves. If people have basic knowledge and education about the area we recreate in, we can take proper precautions to keep ourselves, and our adventure buddies away from the need to be rescued.”
Cowichan SAR members are enjoying working with the students as well.
“The students have been engaged, which has increased the depth of programming,” said Cass Hill, a second-year member of Cowichan SAR with 25 years of previous SAR experience.
Rope rescue team leader John Bocstrom said he is having “the most fun with SAR” in working with the students. He said he feeds off their enthusiasm and interest, which has elevated their learning.
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.