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Dale Jorgensen – President for Penticton and District Search and Rescue reflects backs on 2015 “this was one heck of year for PENSAR”.

Jorgensen who has been with the Team for over 8 years states that 2015 was a year of accomplishments and rewards. “ Our team which was formed in 1974 was built to help to save lives and reduce suffering when called upon. I think we managed to fulfill that mission this past year and I want to thank all of our 34 dedicated volunteers who have committed so much time to training, training, training and then being available to respond when needed and of course to our local community who support us.” Jorgensen commented that there was so much accomplished this past year he cannot speak to everything but noted that:

The Team responded and participated in 52 Task events – which translated into 57 tasking days. These events included numerous calls for searching for lost persons, medical evacuations from the backcountry or providing assistance to evacuate residents during the Fire Season or helping other SAR Teams.

Most years we average about 30-35 events a year, but 2015 was almost double our usual call volume. To the average citizen this may not seem to be very busy, however behind the scenes to keep our service optimized we encourage our volunteers keep competent in their qualifications and training is a priority. This requires a significant time commitment from volunteers so that we are competent and ready to respond in an effective and professional manner. This past year our volunteers tracked 11,000 hours of time training and attending tasks.

Some significant and memorable events that the team participated during 2015 in were:

  1. The Six-day Cathedral Park Search in late June for 2 missing persons.
  2. Four medical evacuations from Skaha Bluffs for injured climbers in the 1st half of 2015 were higher than usual for the Team.
  3. The Penticton HETS (Helicopter long line extraction team) was deployed numerous times throughout the region (Kamloops, Kelowna, Cathedral Parks, Skaha Bluffs and Manning Park) to rescue and evacuation severely injured persons from the backcountry.
  4. On July 24th– a challenging evening rescue of a severely injured female required the Team to request the assistance of the RCAF’s 442 Squadrons Cormorant Helicopter. The hiker had fallen down over 300 feet into Smith Creek was stabilized and secured by PENSAR technical rope members on a steep cliff for several long hours before 2 – RCAF SAR Techs arrived via helicopter to evacuate the injured hiker to Kelowna Regional Hospital.

Support from the community came as the most crucial times:

  • The Rotary Club contributed 25,000 dollars so that new rescue
  • equipment could be deployed in a new rescue truck that was commissioned early in 2015 replacing an aging 1992 Chevy Suburban.
  • The Oktoberfest Society provided 4000 dollars so that the Team could affect repairs to the Apex Mountain Radio repeater.
  • Medi-Quest Technologies of Vancouver donated 4 AED units to the Team in July.
  • South Okanagan Foundation provided a grant of 2000 dollars to the team to add more medical equipment to our response units.
  • After a break in at the Teams compound – Penticton Honda stepped up and replaced our stolen generator.

Individual donations from community members and other businesses continued to come throughout the year and made all of the effort feel recognized and worthwhile. Jorgensen added, “foundational support from the City of Penticton and the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen are key in ensuring that this local community operated and driven service provided is maintained. We are a destination area for people who recreate in our outdoors and we are proud to be able to provide a service to the public and our partner agencies that support life saving.”