WATCH: It’s not even over yet but Nanaimo Search and Rescue says this year is already their busiest on record. And the group’s president says it’s a trend that going to continue. With growing demand and headquarters that are too small, the search and rescue society is now looking for a new home. Kendall Hanson has the story.
With 45 calls so far, 2017 been the busiest year Nanaimo Search and Rescue has ever seen.
Among the more memorable searches was one in late January when crews successfully found Spencer Hunt who had been missing for three days.
Many search and rescue crews across B.C. have experienced higher callouts this year compared to last and Nanaimo’s have almost doubled.
“We expect this to be a trend,” said Nanaimo Search and Rescue President Carly Trobridge. “Our aging population and the increased searches for Alzheimers and dementia patients is also paired hand-in-hand with call volume increasing for lost hikers.”
Trobridge says more people have been heading outdoors for the perfect shot to post on social media but haven’t been prepared for the conditions.
While Nanaimo Search and Rescue sees an increase in calls, it has also outgrown its headquarters. The organization is already planning a new 5,000 square-foot building on a Nanaimo Lakes Road property, which the city owns.
“It’s a great piece of land,” said Trobridge. “It allows us access to our most serviced area. We do a lot of tasks on Mount Benson’ about one-third of our calls are in the Mt. Benson Regional Park area.”
The building will have six apparatus bays, a rope-training wall and a few different offices for staging. Most of the funding for the building is available as an anonymous donor has gifted $1 million for the new home.
“Just a huge thanks to our sponsor,” says Trobridge. “Obviously, without being able to have that donation we wouldn’t be here.”
The society is hoping builders and developers will step forward with in-kind supplies and labour to help the building reach its full potential, budgeted at $1.6 million. They’re also looking for corporate sponsors as they move toward the ground-breaking in mid-2018.