Applications for Membership for this year’s intake has now closed.
Thank you for your interest in Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR).
If you are interested in becoming a member, please read through the following information to see if you are a fit and can make the necessary commitment.
The Role of the Whistler Search and Rescue Team
WSAR is a volunteer search and rescue team. Its members are from all walks of life and share a common interest in providing an important life-saving service to the public, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
The role of WSAR team members includes assisting the following agencies
• Police in the search and rescue of missing persons and in evidence searches
• BC Ambulance Service in the rescue of injured persons
• Provincial Coroner’s Service in body recovery operations
• Municipal agencies in search, rescue, communications, and other roles during civil emergencies
Although we are volunteers, the lifesaving service provided by the members of the Whistler Search and Rescue Team requires that they maintain the standards of unpaid professionals in assisting municipal and provincial agencies.
Training & Commitment of the WSAR team
The single biggest reason people leave any volunteer organization is because they cannot keep up the commitment required so it is vital that applicants understand the significant commitment of time and effort when considering applying to be a WSAR member.
WSAR holds weekly training exercises every Tuesday evening and may also be scheduled for some weekend days. In addition, there are a variety of special events, social activities, specialty team exercises and work groups that require attendance.
Incident Tasks (we average 70-80 per year) can occur at any hour of the day or night and can last for hours or days. Many tasks occur during evenings, weekends and holidays. You must be available and prepared to respond at these times. Some operational tasks take place overnight and often into the next day. A search is an emergency and can happen at any time. Our volunteers need to be ready to be deployed into the field at a moment’s notice.
The average member commitment is approx. 200 hours annually. That equates to a full month of work each year or about 1/12th of your waking hours.
Tasks and training will take you away from friends, family and work, almost always at inconvenient times. Prospective applicants will need to demonstrate a home life and employment situation that will allow full participation in training, search and rescue operations, and other activities of the team.
Whistler Search and Rescue is run by a dedicated team of volunteers. WSAR members are not paid for their time as this is strictly a volunteer position. Training new members is an investment of time, effort, and resources. A commitment to the team, and a return of investment of the time put into you is also a requirement. WSAR expects a minimum three-year commitment to the Society upon receiving GSAR certification.
WSAR as an organization is committed to inclusivity and diversity. We encourage applications from people of all national and ethnic groups, abilities as well as gender identities.
Ideally, you are an active outdoor enthusiast who enjoys helping people. No prior SAR experience is needed, but we require availability, willingness and the ability to work as a team player.
Prospective members must be a resident of the Whistler area and hold a current 80-hour First Aid Certification and a minimum Avalanche Skills Training Level 2 or equivalent. Preference will be given to those applicants wishing to be involved in field operations who demonstrate excellent wilderness and backcountry travel skills in all seasons and familiarity with the local area. Field members must be physically fit and possess the appropriate basic field equipment required to respond safely for a minimum 24-hour period.
We encourage people who are considering applying for membership to take this free online introductory SAR course developed in cooperation with the BC Search and Rescue Association, the Justice Institute of BC and the RCMP. While this is not a requirement for membership on the team it will give you some idea about how SAR works in BC.
WSAR is conducting a membership intake during the period May 1-June 15/2021. The intake will generally follow the process below:
- WSAR issues a recruiting notice on the web site, social media and in the local newspapers.
- WSAR may schedule an evening webinar session to provide more information and answer questions.
- Prospective members submit a written application and cover letter.
- Applications are reviewed and qualified candidates are invited to an interview.
- Applicants attend an interview of about 30 minutes with members of our recruitment committee.
- Selection of new members will follow a short-listing process and decisions will be made as quickly as possible after the interviews.
- Those who are selected will need to complete a criminal record check (free for volunteers) and submit an up-to-date driver’s abstract from ICBC.
- New members join the group on a probationary basis for a period of 2 years.
- Invitation to join the WSAR Team will be based on attitude and fit with the team and successful completion of the GSAR course
- Complete the application. You will be asked to provide references.
If you are selected, you will join the team as a member in training (MIT), you will be required to attend tasks throughout the year as well as 100% of the weekly Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) course in your initial year. The GSAR program is administered by the Justice Institute of BC and provides an introduction to search and rescue operations and core skills used by all search and rescue teams throughout the province.
Throughout the year, new members are evaluated by senior team members in both training and operational environments. Upon successful completion of the GSAR program – and demonstration of commitment to the team – MITs are eligible to be voted in as active members after the two-year probationary period has ended.
• 2-year program
• High attendance expectations (80-100% of all training and general call-outs)
• Average of 200 hours per year
• 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Must complete the JIBC Ground Search and Rescue certification (integrated into the 2-year program)
• Must complete extra training as required to develop skills
• Must be able and willing to purchase required equipment to function as a SAR volunteer
The ideal candidate will possess all or most of the following criteria (more criteria are considered):
• High level of physical fitness (eg. able to carry a backpack that weighs 20-50 pounds in uneven terrain over long distances, able to lift weights that exceed 50 pounds)
• High level of Whistler & Garibaldi Park trail knowledge.
• Experience hiking, snow-shoeing, touring.
• Experience climbing, mountaineering, ski mountaineering.
• Experience camping.
• Avalanche Safety Training (AST 2 minimum)
• OFA 1 /OEC 1/Wilderness 1st Aid or equivalent 80-hour First Aid Course with transport endorsement.
• Owns most of the following outdoor equipment in good repair (eg. Gortex clothing, 60-70 L backpack, hiking boots, mountaineering boots, crampons, ice-axe, ski touring gear, harness, transceiver, probe, shovel, helmet etc.)
• Employed or self-sufficient, with employer approval (they should understand the commitment and be all right with you potentially being late/missing work due to a task).
• Able to commit 5 years minimum to the team.
• Is a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident (required).
• Owns a reliable car with a class 5 license.
• Owns a smartphone and is technologically adept at its full function (required).
Special skills and unique experience will be considered as well in making selection decisions. These may be experience in the emergency services, guiding background, ski patrol, firefighting, and more.
Note that WSAR will provide avalanche safety gear and other personal protective equipment to successful applicants. If selected for an interview the candidate must be available over the summer (June – Sept) for a trial period which will include various activities and equipment/facilities maintenance.