By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

When the calls come in, Columbia Valley Search and Rescue (CVSAR) heads out. Last week within a 48-hour period on Aug. 9 and Aug.10, CVSAR responded to three calls. The first call involved a nighttime search for a mountain biker reported missing on the trails at Panorama. The mountain biker was found and had sustained serious injuries due to a crash. CVSAR provided first-aid on scene and transferred the patient to paramedics for further care, with the patient taken to hospital by transported by STARS air ambulance.

The second call, in the early hours of Aug, 10, involved a medical evacuation from the Kootenay River. The person was transported with the help of Glacier helicopters of Invermere. In case extra support was needed, CVSAR had a ground team standing by. The day did not slow down for the team as, later that afternoon, another rescue was needed for a person who had gone over Lower Bugaboo Falls.

Columbia Valley and Golden search and rescue crews extracted the persons, with CVSAR providing medical attention on site. With the help of Bighorn Helicopters, the patient was transferred to Invermere District Hospital. Due to privacy provisions, no names were released.

The CVSAR team is volunteer-based and available to help in search and rescue situations anywhere in the Columbia Valley on the unceded territories of the Secwépemc and Ktunaxa Peoples and the land chosen as home by the Métis Peoples.

All CVSAR volunteers are dedicated to saving lives through search, rescue, emergency disaster response and mountain safety education and are used when specialized skills are required when accessibility into the backcountry is limited.

“Having a skilled SAR team in the Columbia Valley is an immeasurably huge asset; just ask anyone who was on the receiving end of desperately needing help,” said Nancy Loraas, Columbia Valley Search and Rescue manager.

“What the public often doesn’t realize is that Columbia Valley SAR is 100 per cent volunteer, which means that their members do not get paid for either their training nor during their callouts, which can happen at any hour, day or night,” Loraas said. “The diversity of skill sets required of volunteer SAR members is vast and it takes years and years of practise to hone them to reach response ready capabilities.”

CVSAR volunteers are often tasked to respond through the request of the RCMP, BC Ambulance Service, local fire departments and the BC Coroners Service. Donations to CVSAR are always appreciated and can be made online at or sent via etransfer to [email protected]. Donations can also be sent by mail to Box 2123, Invermere. Tax receipts will be issued for all donations.

Before going out to enjoy the great outdoors, know your limits and remember accidents happen. When they do, call 9-1-1. To help prevent accidents and increase safety, remember to follow Adventure Smart’s Three T’s: trip planning, training and take the essentials. To download their Trip Plan app, visit