It was 50 years ago now that a group of volunteers realized that they had the skills and the drive to make Golden a safer place for outdoor recreation. Golden and District Search and Rescue (GADSAR) was born.
“There was a recognition that there was going to be a need for a more organized search and rescue in the mountains,” said Shauna Speers, one of three managers for GADSAR. “The RCMP quickly realized, especially with the terrain that’s around here, that they didn’t have the capabilities for some of these calls.”
You only have to look around to see why the terrain makes this region particularly tricky when it comes to rescues. But Gold- en is fortunate enough to have a large group of dedicated and skilled volunteers to make sure everyone makes it out of the backcountry safely.
“All of our members are super active, they’re good at what they do,” said Speers.
“We have an amazing cross sections of interests and skills in this group…We have people who are not only good about tak- ing all the courses they need, but people who are competent in these skills and do it professionally or recreationally outside of search and rescue.”
That is not always the case around the province. Speers has met other groups who struggle to get by with four members, only meeting once a month to train in someone’s basement.
Not only that, but GADSAR is lucky to not have to deal with regular personality conflicts within the group.
“We’re a very high functioning group… you hear stories in other groups about the fighting that goes on. So we’re really lucky here.”
And it’s a good thing that the group functions so well together, both for the locals and the tourists who rely on GAD- SAR in their time of need. Golden is one of the busiest regions in the province for callouts, with GADSAR going on 50 to 60 calls a year.
“We’re one of the busier groups, we’re top five for sure,” said Speers.
Going out on calls, and getting people back to Golden safely is no doubt a very rewarding experience. But the less GAD- SAR is needed, the better. That is why they are major advocates of backcountry safety.
“We would never want to tell any- body not to go out into the back country, because that’s why we’re here. We love the mountains. But be prepared and do your research. There’s so much information available. Pay attention to the weather, and also make sure you communicate your travel plans to somebody so they know when to expect you back,” said Speers.
To celebrate GADSAR’s legacy, they are hosting an open house on Saturday Oct. 3 at the SAR hall. There will be a by-donation barbecue, a bouncy castle for the kids, and some demonstrations such as rope rescue and how to build a fire and a shelter.
Former members, family, friends, as well as the whole community is invited to come out and see what GADSAR is all about.
“We’d like to invite everyone out to enjoy the day, and see what we do,” said Speers. “It takes a lot of time and effort to keep a group as busy as we are operation all year round.”