Lillooet and District Rescue Society always looking for new members

Ask a member of the Lillooet and District Rescue Society why they volunteer and they will tell you it's rewarding and that it is giving back to the town where they reside.

These are the men who leave their regular jobs to go search for a lost hiker or someone who fell into the river. They are the ones who jump out of bed when their pager goes off to rescue people whose vehicle has gone over a bank.

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Established in 1991 by Unit Chief Jack Knight, Brian Duguid and Frank Field, the Lillooet and District Search and Rescue has 12 members, and like all groups in town, are always looking for more people to join.

"The more the merrier," said Team Leader Max Paulhus who said they just had three new members join. "That's a boost of energy for us because there's a few days where we are pretty shy of numbers," he said.

Paulhus said the biggest requirement for anyone thinking of joining the group is dedication, explaining that if the group is going to spend money on training people they want those people to stay around.

Members of the Society assist the ambulance crew and RCMP in any form of accident. Paulhus explained it is his crew that does the extraction, cutting the cars apart and going over the bank with ropes and harnesses.

"We go down and package them up," said member Dave Ralston. "Do whatever we can first aid wise and bring them up the hill."

For people who don't want to see the blood, Paulhus says that he can put those in an other position. "That's a common thing," he said. "I'll give them another job - there's 400 jobs to do."

"Another thing is having your neighbour in that accident - can you deal with it?" he asked.

Paulhus said they do the traffic control at accident scenes 90 per cent of the time. "If I can have control of the highway, I know my guys are safe," Paulhus explained.

The Society covers a large area which runs from Duffey Lake, halfway to Lytton, Gold Bridge, halfway down Anderson Lake, West Pavilion and out to the Lime Plant.

"We've gone past there (Lime Plant) several times because of bad directions," said Ralston.

"You can't always trust the information you get from the passer by - 'car accident, I think everyone's out'. You don't know. So that's why we always go. Because if it's an hour and a half to get there and there's still two people in that vehicle that are banged up, you'd be wasting time," he said. "Send us out because you can always send us home."

The Lillooet and District Rescue Society only has one truck that can fit five members. If more than five members show up for a page, then they can use their personal vehicles to drive to the incident. Members receive no remuneration for their work, however they are reimbursed for mileage when they use their own vehicles.

"The volunteer aspect, what the guys have done, that's my biggest thanks," said Paulhus. "To have the crew that we do, and the dedication that we do - they've done a lot."

"It's a job that has to be done and I have a great group of guys that can do it right from A-Z on the education and workplace," Paulhus said.

Paulhus said the group is a very broad base, which is handy because everyone has backing, or thought in different things. "It's a group effort," he said. "There's no wrong or right way to do it, it depends on the accident."

"It's what works at the time, the safest and the fastest."

Lillooet and District Rescue Society are based out of the Tribal Council building across the river where they have a single bay and a storeroom. The Society meets twice a month and Paulhus said: 'If you want to get trained or if you want to progress and you don't show up, well you're not going to get trained."

Applications are available through Paulhus who then takes that application to the present members who decide if an applicant would work with the group. Paulhus then talks to the applicant on what is expected and what the group is all about and lets the applicant decide if it is for them.

Paulhus said all he wanted out of search and rescue is: "To know that people coming into this community, and I hope the same if I am going into their community, that is if something does happen to me that I am safe and that there are people hopefully out there trained to assist me if the day I do get into an accident."

Lillooet is fortunate that we do have those people.

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