The Cowichan River is chilly this time of year.
That didn’t stop a group of 12 search and rescue volunteers from the Central Island area from jumping in this weekend and learning to rescue themselves and others.
“Three different SAR groups spent the weekend together training for their certification on swift water rescue operation,” explained swift water rescue team leader Shauneen Nichols on Monday.
The group was made up of members from Cowichan, Ladysmith and Juan de Fuca Search and Rescue teams.
“We always like to make sure our communities are well looked after,” Nichols said. “With the fact that we’ve got El Niño supposedly moving in, as all the weather forecasters are predicting, we want to be as well prepared as possible.”
The swift water rescue operations course teaches rescuers how to remain on land to search for and pluck victims from fast moving waters without compromising their own safety.
The course included classroom work and practical exercises on, near to, and in the water.
“Once the river starts getting higher and riskier, these are the members that would be deployed to search beside the river,” Nichols said. “They would not be deployed into the water but they would be available to do searching and simple rescues beside the river,” Nichols added, noting the biggest thing now is, with the way the rivers are running, should the rescuers fall in, they now know how to rescue themselves as well.
Cowichan SAR hosted the course, delivered by Craig Gerrard of Raven Rescue.
“The Cowichan River is actually a really good river to use. In that one stretch from Skutz Falls down, there are a lot of different hydrologies,” she said.
And Cowichan SAR gets called to that river a lot for rescues.
“The more these people are heading out into the bush and the river, the more we’ve got to step up,” Nichols said.