According to the British Columbia Search and Rescue Association, Keremeos Search and Rescue operation, husband and wife Rose Koehler and Darrell Taylor have played a major role in the group since it restarted in 2009 and the were the last remaining volunteers.
BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) said the dedication these members showed was inspiring but they were finding it difficult to attract other volunteers to keep the group operational.
“We live in an area with a high number of retired people and those that are not retired are often very busy with work responsibilities and family life,” Koehler said. “Being a search and rescue volunteer typically means a significant commitment in time and energy.”
Koehler and Taylor and the decision to bring the operation to a halt and close down was “gut-wrenching” but they want to reassure the Keremeos area other SAR teams can respond quickly. “Some of them can be here in 10 minutes,” says Koehler.
The area will now be service by one of the other groups in the surrounding area Penticton, Oliver/Osoyoos or Princeton depending on where the incident occurs.
The community, which is situated on Highway 3 midway between Princeton and Osoyoos, is highly dependent on the fruit industry.
According to the British Columbia Search and Rescue Association website they have 3,000 volunteers spread across the province in 78 teams and respond to about 1900 incidents per year, in 2021 they were called to action in 1819 incidents according to their statistics page.
Keremeos does have an RCMP detachment and also has a volunteer staff for their fire department that can help people that are evacuated by floods or fires. Call search and rescue is a free service in British Columbia staffed with volunteers to help people lost and/or injured