Okanagan Search and Rescue group pleads public to call them sooner rather than later, and not worry about embarrassment

Please call Search & Rescue

Chelsea Powrie

An Okanagan search and rescue group is reminding the public there is no shame in calling for help, especially because embarrassment can sometimes lead to rescue attempts being too late.

Brenda Arychuk, information officer with Oliver/Osoyoos Search and Rescue as well as being a volunteer rescuer herself, said shame on social media against those who need SAR around the province is on the rise.

"Really it's to the detriment of search and rescue, because quite often when we find people they are very embarrassed, and that's one of the biggest reasons people don't want to call search and rescue early enough. And that's what will ultimately help us have the best outcome," Arychuk said.

"We like to reassure people that's what we are here for, we would rather people call us sooner versus later, rather than have a very negative outcome. The shaming from social media critics is not helpful because it reaffirms to people that they should try and figure a way out, and that can make things worse for them."

Winter is often a busy time for search and rescue crews around the province as people venture out into the backcountry while weather and temperatures can change on a dime. Arychuk suggests anyone heading out on a trip be fully prepared with things like extra batteries for their phone, a radio if they are heading out of cell service, food and water in case of emergency, and most importantly, a trip plan they have shared with friends or family.

'The nightmare is someone stranded, we don't know where they are, we don't know where they were last known to be because they didn't let anyone know," Arychuk said, adding that while search and rescue members are trying to find a missing person, it's important that individual have the supplies to be able to stay alive.

"We are humans. When we get in a situation where we are lost and we don't know what to do, fear and panic can set in."

She suggests AdventureSmart, which also offers a downloadable app for phones, as a good place for anyone exploring BC to learn more about staying safe.

But if anyone finds themselves lost or in trouble, the bottom line is search and rescue crews will be there, with no judgement.

"This is what we're here for," Arychuk said. "We want people to call sooner versus later."

Oliver/Osoyoos Search and Rescue as well as all other local search and rescues can be reached by calling 911.

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