You’d be hard pressed to find a volunteer job that’s quite like that of a search and rescue manager, especially when the position happens to be in Golden, a mecca for adventure tourism.
Intense, even thrilling, search and rescue personnel tend to have one thing in common, a love for the outdoors and a sense of duty in giving back.
That’s what drew Shauna Speers towards Golden and District Search and Rescue (GADSAR) in 2007, and she’s yet to look back.
“I’m a bit of a self proclaimed trauma geek,” Speers said, while noting that she also works for BC Ambulance.
“I’ve always liked helping people. I’m not afraid to get involved and get my hands dirty so I guess I’m drawn to being able to manage things and roll with the punches.”
A longtime dog sledder, ice climber and ski patroller, SAR proved to be a natural fit and she began to get more and more involved with the local organization.
Not long after joining the team, Speers was offered the position of vice president. Later, she served as president before also taking on a role as one of GADSAR’s three managers, a role she continues to fill today.
It’s a position that sees her co-ordinate rescue efforts as well as attend calls herself. It works well for Speers now that she’s started a family. This way, even when she can’t go out on calls, she’s able to help with rescue efforts remotely.
Naturally, there’s a heavy dose of adrenaline involved with any call out, and it’s an aspect that Speers enjoys about her work with SAR, but it’s also an intensely rewarding experience as well.
“It’s great the recognition that we get locally,” Speers said.
While many of the calls that she goes out on involve Albertans and other tourists, Speers has participated in rescues involving locals, some of which have involved close personal friends of hers.
That was the case in January of 2014 when locals Billy Neilson and Tim Collins were caught in a massive avalanche near Hope Creek. The pair were reached in the evening before being air-lifted to safety the next morning.
Speers recalls the ride in the helicopter with Neilson vividly.
“I was able to call Billy’s wife once we were up in the air in the helicopter…I was able to let Billy talk to (her) on the phone and just being there to share that moment with them was pretty intense for sure,” Speers remembered.
While those incidents are a big reason why she loves her line of volunteer work, there’s another aspect that keeps Speers keen to continue with GADSAR.
“We’re so lucky that, on the whole, our group is like a big family and we mostly get along. Sometimes we bicker a little bit…we’re all friends and it extends into our social life and into our work world,” she said.
The GADSAR family is getting set to celebrate its 50th anniversary this fall and is planning to celebrate with an open house. For all of the latest GADSAR news, like their Facebook page by searching Golden and District Search and Rescue.