The regular meeting of Vernon Search and Rescue’s executive and volunteers had a couple of special guests Thursday at the hall on Aberdeen Road in Coldstream.
After president Dan Hoekstra went through the agenda rather quickly, and members and directors gave their reports, came the introduction of the guests.
Joining VSAR were Cheryl Lambert and her son, Brett, and Brant Jackson, marketing director for Geotech Drilling, the company owned and operated by Lambert and her husband, Jody.
The trio had a big cardboard cheque with the amount of $50,000 on it, the money raised by the Lamberts for VSAR as a way of saying thanks to the volunteer group for rescuing Brett after an unscheduled overnight stay on Hunter’s Range, near Enderby, in January 2018.
The trio received a lengthy standing ovation from VSAR.
The money was raised through the first SOS for VSAR (Supporting Our Searchers) golf tournament held earlier this year, and will continue to be an annual fundraiser for the rescue group.
“We wanted to do something really grand, and Brant was so instrumental in all of this,” said Lambert. “We still had donations coming in. Dan Currie (Tim Hortons) played in the tournament and donated items for the auctions, then threw in another $500 at the end to help us reach $50,000.”
Brett Lambert had been snowmobiling in Hunters Range in January of 2018 when he became separated from his group. After two hours of no contact with the group, he was reported missing and VSAR was mobilized through the instruction of the local 9-1-1 dispatcher.
Coralie Nairn was the search manager that night.
“We sent some of our members out on-site with a mobile command, and we set up command here at the SAR hall where access to the Internet and mapping is better,” said Nairn. “Because this was happening during the darkest hours, and there was a lot of snow, there was concern for the team and the missing person.
“We knew where he was not. We determined all signs pointed toward him being in avalanche terrain. At first light, the RCMP helicopter came in and spotted Brett right away in the first of three possible locations we thought he was at.”
The RCMP copter couldn’t land at the site, so VSAR’s helicopter winch rescue team, which had been mustering at the Vernon Airport, was called. Winch/rescue technician Steve Oliver was the volunteer lowered to rescue Brett.
“We flew over, and right in the middle of the avalanche terrain was Brett, waving to us,” said Oliver. “The weather was fine, so we hovered over top, I was winched down, grabbed him, and we got winched up. We flew to Vernon Airport and he was taken by ambulance to hospital to be checked over.”
Said Brett Thursday: “I’m super grateful to Vernon Search and Rescue. Very thankful. It was a long night out there.”
“You always hear about something like search and rescue and other volunteer groups but until it hits that close to home,” said Jody in an interview earlier this year with The Morning Star, as his wife finished his sentence. “You realize that the resource is needed to safely search for people,” said Cheryl. “The very next day, I thought we needed to do something.”
The golf tournament was sold out – the Lamberts phoned all of their friends and told them to buy tickets – and the community chipped in with silent and live auction items. A GoFundMe page also helped raise funds for VSAR.
The second annual tournament is set for July 4, 2020, 2 p.m., at the Vernon Golf and Country Club.
VSAR was extremely touched by the Lamberts’ show of support.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Nairn. “It will go a long way to providing transport and logicial support to our team. It’s a pretty amazing gift.”