First, please read through the following Q&A to get an idea of what applying to join COSAR means and to see if you can make the commitment. Once you have done this, you will find an application form at the bottom of the page.
Some Questions and Answers
What is Central Okanagan Search and Rescue?
What is a Member-In-Training (MIT)?
An MIT will have to pass a practical and written examination, as well as meet attendance and other performance criteria before being brought on as an active member. Expectations are high for MIT’s, but it can be a fun and rewarding process with a lot of opportunity to be fully engaged in Search and Rescue activities.
How big is the team?
Approximately 50 or so people. However not everyone goes into the field. There are search managers, communications people, media and public relations people, and so forth.
How much time does it take up?
Lots! Each member can spend literally hundreds of hours a year on team activities. Training is every Thursday night, plus one weekend out of four, as well as special courses. Plus other activities like fundraising or education. And finally the call-outs, often at night, and often in bad weather. The team consumes a lot of its members’ free time.
How often is the team called out?
We average 30 to 40 calls a year, which means almost every 10 days on average. We’re busy all year round. However often the calls come in clusters where we will be out 3 times in one week, and then nothing for a month. During the summer, we mostly look for missing or injured hikers and motorsport recreationalists, and during the winter it’s often snowmobilers,skiers and snowboarders. We consistently receive call-outs throughout the year. Take a look at our callout statistics.
How long do the calls take?
It varies tremendously. A “typical” call, if such a thing exists, will start in the evening and finish sometime in the following morning. Some calls last for only a couple of hours. But some calls will run for days.
What area does the team cover?
Where does the money come from for all this?
There is some local government funding through the Regional District of the Central Okanagan. This goes towards some of the team’s costs such as insurance, utilities and fuel. This however is insufficient to cover all of our expenses. The team also receives donations from community minded business and grateful individuals and families. Team members also spend significant amounts of their time fund-raising, and seaking deals.
Do you get paid?
No. Everybody is a volunteer, providing their own time for training and searches. In addition everyone provides their own personal equipment. Some expenses are paid, such as gas for driving to a search site. However almost everything else is paid for by the team members themselves. We are regularly asked about employment or career opportunities. Because everybody is a volunteer, the normal concepts of employment or career do not apply. Having said all of that, there is huge personal reward knowing that you are making the difference in someone's life and that of their family.
Are there other teams?
Yes, There are some 100 teams around the province providing Search and Rescue services to citizens of British Columbia as well as it's visitors. We often train with some of these other teams and assist them during callouts.
This point cannot be emphasised enough. The team will consume a very large proportion of your once-free time. It will impact your social life. The pager you carry is an animal that demands attention. There are countless stories of members having their days and nights rudely interrupted by call-outs. Of spending half the day making dinner for guests, only to cancel it at 5 pm when the pager starts beeping. Of leaving dinner parties halfway through due to the pager beeping. You can no longer truly commit to virtually anything, because you’ll never know if that pager will go off one hour before you were due to get there.
The same applies for work. It’s crucial you work in an understanding environment that can tolerate you suddenly leaving with no warning.
Think about it. How much time can you afford to give up? What other hobbies and interests do you have? Just how badly do you want to join? This team will consume literally hundreds of hours of your once-free time every year.
Finally, how much time do you spend in town? People who travel a lot may not be very suitable for the team, as they may not be available when required. If your work or recreation keeps you regularly out of town this should be a consideration.
Skill and Equipment Requirements
Central Okanagan Search and Rescue receives dozens upon dozens of applications per year. Some of these applicants hope that joining the team will turn them into mountaineers. This is not the case! Due to the large variety of mountain and wilderness situations the team can be exposed to, it is simply impossible to provide “from the ground up” training in all of these. The objective of team training is to enhance existing skills, not teach novice ones.
Therefore it is important applicants already have experience in a variety of outdoor situations. Hiking, climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing and so forth are all very useful. A mixture of summer and winter experience is very desirable.
A related subject is equipment. It’s assumed that aspiring team members are already experienced “outdoors-type” people. Hence it is also assumed that they already own the appropriate outdoor equipment, such as backpacks, boots, clothing, and so forth. Team members must be able to travel through a mountain environment in any weather for extended periods of time, and thus need the personal equipment required to do this. Specialized equipment such as a rope-rescue chest harness is provided by the team. However the vast majority of equipment required is normal outdoor gear, and must already be owned by the applicant.
A good knowledge of the okanagans wilderness is critical. Being familiar with the many peaks, trails and watercourses is invaluable when trying to navigate them at night, in a snowstorm, as part of a search.
Holding a current First Aid certificate is a membership requirement. However, you DO NOT need one to join. First Aid training will be provided upon commencement as a member in training.
If you have read the FAQ and still think that you are a good fit for the team, please submit an application. Only those applicants who are short listed for an interview will be contacted.