SAR experts celebrated at ceremony in Banff
Banff, the world-famous Alberta mountain town, welcomes roughly 4 million visitors a year, many of whom come to climb, hike, camp, ski or go rafting.
“No one comes thinking that they’re going to get lost, or get hurt or get trapped on the side of a mountain,” says Mayor Karen Sorensen, but some do. “The enchantment of our community also adds real dangers. That’s why our search and rescue experts train so hard.”
In the Rocky Mountains – as in the rest of Canada – when people find themselves in danger, search and rescue experts often mean the difference between life and death.
To express the country’s respect and gratitude for the skills, service and sacrifices of Canada’s search and rescue experts, Canada Post created a stamp honouring them. It’s one of five Emergency Responders stamps unveiled at events across the country. The other four pay tribute to paramedics, the Canadian Armed Forces, firefighters and police, all of whom protect and assist Canadians in emergencies – often by risking their own lives.
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Canada’s air, ground and marine search and rescue teams respond to more than 15,000 calls a year. They do whatever is needed to find, rescue and treat the lost, hurt or stranded. These capable everyday heroes – be they career or volunteer, military or civilian – exhibit extraordinary commitment and courage in helping Canadians.
They cover millions of square kilometres, unforgiving terrain, and the longest coastlines in the world. They risk their lives so that others may live.
“Each of us in the outdoor community places ourselves at risk in one form or another every time we venture outside and off the beaten path,” explains Lawrence White, executive director of the Alpine Club of Canada.
The search and rescue stamp was unveiled on September 12 at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff, home to Parks Canada’s Mountain Safety Program. While the stamp portrays a helicopter extraction in the mountains, a wide variety of search and rescue operations – in the air, on the ground, and on the water – are also performed by other organizations across the country. They include the Canadian Armed Forces, Canadian Coast Guard, RCMP as well as volunteer organizations that have roughly 15,000 trained members across Canada.
White says search and rescue experts understand the intrinsic value of people pursuing health and fulfilment through outdoor recreation, and are there to help when called upon.
“And if on occasion, they are able to lend a hand – often risking their own safety – it’s the gift they give, and it’s the safety net they provide for all of us,” White said at the stamp unveiling. “Collectively we are thankful, because collectively we are much better for it.”
A number of SAR experts from different organizations and from as far away as Newfoundland and Labrador attended the unveiling, as did other local emergency responders.
“This is certainly a wonderful tribute to the profession and a great way to honour our first responders both in Banff and across Canada,” said Mayor Sorensen.
The stamps are available for purchase on canadapost.ca and at postal outlets across Canada.