As I travelled and talked to people across the country about search and rescue, what came up most often were stories of thrill-seeking outdoor enthusiasts who go out and do things in the wilderness most of us would never dream of doing.
There are hair-raising stories of climbing perilous cliff edges with little or no climbing gear, racing down raging rapids having kayaked only once before, skiing out of bounds, and more. Not surprisingly, these adventures sometimes lead to equally daring rescues, more often than not performed by volunteers.
I was prepared for stories like these, but what surprised me was how many rescue calls are actually made by people just like me. They are day hikers, couples out for some fresh air, families out for an afternoon. Someone turns an ankle, or gets disoriented. A whopping 95% of all recreational rescue calls are for this type of help. They are you and me, out for a trail jog on a Saturday afternoon.
It was the folks at OVERT (Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team) in Oshawa, Ontario who really made me understand the real truth of who is most likely to get rescued in Canada.
The river search turned up nothing, and luckily the two day hikers were found safe. This large team is very well-trained, self-funded, and they work tirelessly to keep team members razor-sharp when it comes to a variety of skills. I was inspired by their great team spirit and impressed by the fact that among the teams we visited on our travels, they had the highest ratio of women on the team, and in key roles. So know that, if you ever need help anywhere near Oshawa, you will be in extremely capable hands.
– Melanie Wood, director, To the Rescue
TO THE RESCUE airs Thursday Jan 16 at 9pm/9:30NT on CBC TV’s Doc Zone – Watch the Trailer: