Back-to-back searches on Aug. 18 and 19 had Cowichan Search and Rescue crews on their toes.
Cowichan SAR search manager Shauneen Nichols said it’s very common to have multiple calls in a short period of time.
“Lots of time it comes in threes,” she said. “It’ll be quiet and then for whatever reason, boom, boom, boom and we just get everything put away and one bit of paperwork done and we’re back out there again.”
That’s what happened last week and fortunately, the specialized unit was able to locate everyone that had been reported missing.
A visiting group of 15 tubers from Victoria had started their river quest earlier in the day at the Cowichan Lake weir but by nightfall six of the twenty-somethings were unaccounted for.
“They were tubing from the weir down to Skutz Falls and had no idea how long that would take,” Nichols said. “So one group got out at Trestle 70.2. It was getting dark so they made the good choice to get out there and walk back to the parking lot.”
Another group of three went out a little father before opting to get out of the water.
“The group of six carried on but they did stop. They did stay put and we were able to locate them,” Nichols said. “Actually it was an RCMP officer that located them and then we helped bring them out. They were on the beach right beside the water in flip flops and bathing suits so they were cold and thirsty and hungry.”
By then it was the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
“It was a happy ending,” Nichols said. The team was stood down shortly before dawn. But they didn’t rest for long.
On Wednesday evening, the team was called out for a missing 80-year-old man between Lake Cowichan and Youbou.
“He had gone out in the morning, I believe he was looking for areas to get firewood later on in the season when the woods were more accessible — just doing a drive-around — and he didn’t come home around noon which was unusual for him so his wife got hold of the RCMP,” Nichols said.
RCMP located the man’s vehicle and called in a dog and his handler from Westshore RCMP.
Despite thoroughly searching the brush, the dog couldn’t find the missing man.
“While he was still working they phoned us and had us come out,” Nichols said.
Search and Rescue’s trained trackers found the man within 20 minutes.
“It looked like a suspected stroke. He was down, but he was still responsive,” she said. “Our one tracker has a very high level of first aid so he started first aid and we called the ambulance immediately.
“The gentleman was only about 60 meters off-road so we were able to bring him out to the ambulance and off he went.”
Nichols said her crew doesn’t know the man’s condition.
“Lots of times we don’t. We come in, we do the job and head home and get ready for the next one,” she said. “You just have to let go.”