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North Shore Rescue seeking new recruits

Joining the team is a major committment but also rewarding, particularly for people who like going for a 2 a.m. hike in the pouring rain
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A North Shore Rescue member makes a hand signal during Class D fixed line helicopter training in March of 2023. | Silvester Law

Think what you’ve got what it takes to don the red parka and join North Shore Rescue? For the first time in three years, the team will be taking on new recruits.

Training officer Julie Van de Valk said, like any organization, North Shore Rescue has seen some natural attrition in its membership and it’s time to bring in new blood.

“We look at our team members, and none of us get any younger,” she said.

The team held an information session with a crop of prospective new volunteers at their North Vancouver rescue base on Thursday evening.

Those who do get accepted as members-in-training should know it’s more than walk in the park, especially for the first two years when they’ll be expected to report for almost all searches and training events. That could easily amount to 400 to 500 hours per year, according to the team.

“If they’re worried about the time commitment, it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s a choice to be so motivated to help so strongly that you will choose to do NSR activities over going for your own ski,” Van der Valk said. “It’s not awful, but it is a lot.”

It’s also something that prospective members should also make sure their families and employers are aware of and are willing to accommodate.

Apart from being comfortable in the backcountry, the volunteer position does require a high level of physical fitness that allows members to do their strenuous work in the mountains.

And while lifesaving skills are certainly an asset, the team does provide extensive training. More important is a natural desire to help out, Van der Valk said.

“That’s really that motivation that we’re looking for – people that want to be here for others, for their community, for their team members and for all the right reasons. We’ll figure out the rest,” she said.

Those who do make that cut will find an incredibly rewarding experience, Van der Valk said, especially if you’re the kind of person who has fun hiking in the rain in the middle of the night.

“You get pretty awesome interactions with your community… but also you literally get to be a part of a system that saves lives,” she said.

For the first time, the team is seeking out “resource” members who can help out around the base but won’t be expected to go out on searches. Specifically, they’re looking for someone with expertise in radio programming and maintenance, someone who can help them keep their database up to date, extra help with equipment logistics at the base and someone who can help the team do public education via social media with an eye to reaching a younger audience.

The team is accepting applications for new members until the end of March. Information on the application process can be found at northshorerescue.com/volunteer-membership/.

brichter@nsnews.com
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