When people go missing, usually after hiking or skiing in the back country, one of the first calls is to local search and rescue groups. REALTOR® Ken Welte and his wife and business partner Laura recently completed a year of training to become volunteers with the Ladysmith Search and Rescue team.
They spent a night outdoors in below-freezing temperatures without a tent relying only on basic equipment such as a tarp, sleeping bags, a fire starter and years of experience.
“When the instructor came by to check on us, he referred to our campsite as the Hilton,” laughs Ken. “We were prepared.”
But that doesn’t mean everything was easy. To become volunteers, they completed about 50 hours of academic instruction on topics as diverse as swift water awareness, radio communications, bear safety, using stretchers, and more. There were also monthly tests and field work.
“I had to push myself to do things outside of my comfort zone,” Laura admits. “Afterwards it was rewarding to say, ‘Hey, I just dragged a stretcher up the side of a mountain.’”
Ken spent two weeks last summer earning his certification in Occupational First Aid Level III. Over the years, he has also gained experience as an Air Cadet volunteer, often taking teenage cadets on wilderness trips. To keep his first aid skills sharp, Ken now also volunteers as an attendant at community events.
“On average, I believe Central Vancouver Island gets about 60 calls a year,” Ken says. “That’s an average of more than one per week, although summer is the busiest time. This past summer, as members in training, we sometimes had a call every night.”
Ken commends the B.C. Government for funding the vehicles, gasoline, radio licenses and other essential equipment required by the Search and Rescue team.
This story was adapted – with permission – from one originally featured on the Sutton Spirit website. The Sutton Spirit program recognizes Sutton associates across Canada that improve and enhance the lives of the people around them.