Safety on the Trails with Mission Search and Rescue


Mission is rich with lush forestry, mountains and lakes to explore! Of course, with exploring the great outdoors also comes safety and preparedness when adventuring. President of Mission Search and Rescue (MSAR), Sean Sublett, gives us the inside scoop on MSAR and 3 top tips for keeping safe on the trails!

Safety on the Trails with Mission Search and Rescue

Swimming, hiking, and biking – oh my! Mission is known for its incredible backyard caped with forestry and rich with lakes and trails. However, safety and adventure go hand in hand and preparedness is key when exploring our beautiful home. Did you know that according to BC Search & Rescue Association, 1900 Search and Rescue (SAR) related incidents happen in BC each year?

Among the 78 SAR groups in BC, Mission Search and Rescue stands as a province-registered nonprofit organization that was formed in 1981 and is run by volunteer members of the community who provide life-saving Search and Rescue related services. We at Tourism Mission got to chat with Sean Sublett, current president of Mission Search and Rescue, to get the inside scoop on SAR in Mission and hear their top tips for keeping safe on the trails while exploring our beautiful forests and lakes.

Photo Credit: Sean Sublett, Mission Search and Rescue

Tell us a little about yourself and your involvement with Mission Search and Rescue. How long have you been a member and how did you get involved with MSAR in the beginning?

I'm a home town boy - I grew up and went to school right here in Mission, I am the operations manager at Hayward Lake Park where I work and that is where my Search and Rescue career began. I have been a Member of MSAR since 2011, at the time I was working at Hayward as a seasonal labourer and my boss was a member of the team. He would tell me stories about training and recent tasks and it really got me interested in checking it out. I started coming to practices and getting to know the team members, shortly after I registered to take the Ground Search and Rescue course. I'm a heavily involved operational member, one of our Search managers and have been involved in the board and society function for the last 7 years.

Photo Credit: Sean Sublett, Mission Search and Rescue

As stated on the Mission Search and Rescue website, you've had over 42 calls in the past 12 months. What would you say are the majority of these calls about? What is the number one thing you have to conduct rescues for?

A large majority of our calls are water-related, either taking place on the Fraser River or on and around the Stave Lake area. Water environments are ones that people often underestimate, they can quickly change and if you are not prepared for changing conditions and/or don’t have the proper equipment, things tend to get out of hand.

It would be hard to pin down one thing we conduct rescues for. Being unprepared for the environment is usually the main reason we are tasked but that changes from call to call. Sometimes it's a lack of life jackets in a boating situation, or improper footwear when exploring a creek or new trail. In addition, hikers often misjudge how large a trail is and don't have the gear to get them the distance.

Photo Credit: Sean Sublett, Mission Search and Rescue

Your motto is “Being Dedicated and Ready”, which certainly speaks to your volunteer members who are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Who are these volunteers and what do you think motivates them to be so dedicated to the community?

They are you, your neighbour, that guy who does your renovations, and the gal that helps you with insurance. We are mothers, fathers, teachers, and farmers. Empathy motivates them, all of our members care for people, and for life, you have to want to go out and make someone’s poor situation better.

Photo Credit: Sean Sublett, Mission Search and Rescue

How can we (as a community) help and support the Mission Search and Rescue team?

Be prepared when you plan your activities, and know where you are going and what you should have with you. Extra gear can feel silly on short hikes but it can make the difference if and when situations change.

In addition, donations always go a long way to purchase new and updated equipment; every little bit helps and even the smallest donations add up! If you want to help and get involved there are lots of opportunities. A team needs operational members, but we also need support members, people who know how societies are run, how to plan fundraisers, and community awareness events. We are hosting an open house on September 27th, if you are interested to see how you can get involved follow Mission SAR on socials for more information about that event.

Search and Rescue's Top 3 Tips for Staying Safe on the Trails

1. Download the Emergency Apps used by the City of Mission

The City of Mission has 3 apps they use to help keep us safe when exploring our beautiful backyard! You can download all of these either on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

  • WHAT3WORDS: This app is a helpful tool that divides land into 3-metre squares and gives them a unique 3-word address to help emergency personnel find you. It's as accurate as GPS coordinates, however, Sean warns that it only works in areas where you have cell coverage, so please ensure you tell a friend or family member where you're going and when you plan to get back.
  • ALERTABLE: This app sends out warnings and updates about local emergencies and conditions such as severe weather, motor-vehicle accidents, and natural disasters. The alerts can be life-saving and also provide instructions on what to do next if there is a local emergency.
  • ADVENTURESMART: AdventureSmart has an incredible app and website filled to the brim with helpful resources about trip planning, tips for different conditions, and general safety information. Their app can help you plan your trip outdoors and Sean mentions that AdventureSmart is becoming a great resource for information on some of the most common large hikes in the area that users want to check off their lists. AdventureSmart also has a great video series on trail-specific safety you can find here.

2. Plan/Pack for Your Trip and Know What to Expect

Planning plays a key role in keeping hikers safe on the trail. You should always have a trip plan filled out before you head hiking anywhere (you can do this on the AdventureSmart app). Also, be sure to pack "the essentials" before going out to explore. A list of these items can be found on the Mission SAR website and includes things like food/water, a signaling device and a first aid kit. In addition, be sure you're familiar with the conditions outside/on the trail and dress accordingly with proper footwear, clothing and weather-related gear.

3. Educate Yourself

When you're looking to explore our scenic trails, it's easy to just want to get out and go do it! However, it's incredibly important and even lifesaving to be properly prepared and educated on outdoor survival/what to do in case of an emergency. Mission SAR has a great survival guide available on their website and AdventureSmart is full of safety resources that can help you learn more about outdoor safety and survival. In addition, be sure you know and stay within your limits.

For more information on Mission Search and Rescue, please click here.

In the event of an emergency, please call 911.