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Shuffle participant raising funds for rescuers in qathet region

Powell River Search and Rescue team saves many outdoor enthusiasts each year

As a retired nurse practitioner and avid outdoors person living in the qathet region, Sara Mitchell-Banks has empathy and understanding for the important but often taken for granted work performed by Powell River Search and Rescue Society (PRSR).

“I was for a brief time a search and rescue volunteer in Alberta in my 30s," said Mitchell-Banks. "I've worked in very remote communities where we've relied on choppers and things like that.”

Mitchell-Banks is in training for the 2024 Marathon Shuffle, which takes place April 28, and is looking for donations for PRSR. She hopes to raise $10,000.

"I want to fundraise to get the hardworking volunteers some new and needed equipment," said Mitchell-Banks.

Having well designed equipment can make all the difference in life and limb in transporting a patient to the ambulance and hospital, she added.

One item on the local PRSR wish list is a spine board with a compression pump used for suspected spinal, hip or multiple fractures. This type of board can quickly immobilize the patient both vertically and horizontally.

PRSR president Todd Phillips recently went out on a call that lasted close to 36 hours in the Powell Forest Canoe Route area. Luckily the person was located and found safe.

The team frequently assists other emergency organizations such as BC Emergency Health Services. In 2021, PRSR assisted with a serious mountain bike accident on Mount Mahony when an injured person had to be evacuated by air ambulance. Last year the team rescued an injured hiker on Mount Pocahontas (Texada Island) using helicopters with assistance from North Shore Rescue. 

The completely volunteer search and rescue team members are continually training and ready to go into remote terrain at any time.

PRSR members, along with Marathon Shuffle first-aid volunteers, will be at the April 28 event in case participants sprain an ankle or need medical attention.

"It's  a good training day for us," said Phillips. 'It's good practice for our team."

Mitchell-Banks personally thinks search and rescue teams should be better supported by the government and funded like the fire department.

"Realize that when you're living in a remote community, any of us who are in the outdoors, or have family go outdoors, everybody's at risk," said  Mitchell-Banks. "When something happens, these are the people [PRSR] who are going to be our heroes, and we're dependent on them."

However, PRSR is dependent on applying for gaming grants. Phillips said a lot of politics is involved. People join the team for many reasons, such as physical activity, adrenaline and helping people, he added. 

To donate to the Powell River Search and Rescue Society Marathon Shuffle fundraiser organized by Mitchell-Banks, email [email protected].

"Some of us are walking and hiking [the shuffle], and the ones who still have estrogen and cartilage in their knees, they'll be running," laughed Mitchell-Banks. "It's 27 kilometres, and up to 708 metres on the trail.

“I just thought I'll shoot for 10 grand; I may not get there, but I'm going to do my very best.”

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