Columbia Valley SAR

Welcome to Columbia Valley Search and Rescue

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CVSAR logo (2)





Columbia Valley Search and Rescue (CVSAR) is a volunteer based, registered non-profit Society that provides assistance to local, provincial and federal agencies in ground search and rescue (SAR) operations. Operating under the guidelines of Emergency Management British Columbia (EMBC), CVSAR’s primary role is a community resource to assist the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the BC Ambulance Service, local Emergency Operations Centres, or other authorized tasking agency in ground search and rescue operations. 


CVSAR’s dedicated volunteers are committed to public safety, especially in the backcountry. Members’ training begins with the Justice Institute of BC’s Ground Search and Rescue Training program followed by monthly training in all aspects for all members. Members contribute a significant time commitment and pride themselves in their readiness for the broad range of requests they handle annually.


Covering over 10,000 square kilometers, CVSAR responds to requests from Brisco to Canal Flats and conducts its operations on the traditional territory of the Shuswap and Ktunaxa people.





Once notified by the tasking agency such as the RCMP, CVSAR volunteers respond to a variety of emergencies including ground search and rescue, organized avalanche response, mountain rope rescue and swiftwater rescue. In addition, CVSAR has been called upon to assist municipalities such as in times of fire or flood.





CVSAR is guided by values that define our conduct and actions collectively as a society, as a team and as individual team members.  

  • Safety
  • Teamwork
  • Professionalism – in our conduct and execution of tasks
  • Integrity
  • Compassion
  • Respect          
  • Accountability – to the subject, the team and ourselves





To provide trained and dedicated ground search and rescue services, emergency disaster response services, public safety and community education to the Columbia Valley and beyond.





CVSAR maintains a response capability for ground search, swiftwater rescue, organized avalanche response, rope rescue, and mountain rescue with operations on the traditional territory of the Shuswap and Ktunaxa people.  Members are volunteers from all backgrounds, including the general public, firefighters, paramedics, mountain guides, recreationalists, and even search dog handlers.


The group and its equipment are based in Windermere, co-located with the Emergency Operations Center adjacent to the Windermere Fire Hall.  SAR members respond to emergencies from all over the Columbia Valley as far away as the Brisco area in the north, to Panorama and south beyond Canal Flats.  CVSAR is seeking new members and interested candidates can apply through the link on this site.


CVSAR covers a significant portion of south eastern British Columbia, with a considerable diversity of terrain. The area is mountainous with steep walls of poor quality rock unsuitable for technical climbing. The numerous valleys are deep with fast flowing creeks and rivers along with some class 5 rapids.


CVSAR is responsible for approximately 10,000 square kilometres in the central East Kootenay, from the Purcell mountain range to the Rocky Mountains along the Alberta Border. CVSAR's coverage area is bordered by Golden & District SAR to the North and Kimberley SAR to the south.  CVSAR periodically assists other regional SAR groups with extended or complex search and rescue operations and regularly cross-trains with local emergency services, backcountry operators, and adventure outfitters.


A 3-year strategic plan was completed in 2020 with the following areas of focus: governance, training, engagement from members and within the community, equipment, administration and finance, reputation, and a new home.




Our team appreciates our volunteers for their diverse skills. Whether they are in the field, provide data entry, maintain the equipment in our hall, or help promote CVSAR within the community, their time and energy invested in the team is truly valued. We rely on our volunteers to attend call outs on short notice and know that not everyone is available 24/7. In order for our team to provide sufficient service within our coverage area, we require a strong volunteer base that is aligned with CVSAR’s mission and exemplifies its values.



CVSAR offers training three times a month from 1830 hours – 2100 hours on Wednesdays and the occasional weekend. To become an active member, applicants must first complete the 100 hour Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) training. This is offered when CVSAR has the need and capacity to facilitate the program. 



Members should expect to experience tasks that include small scale searches in both urban and wilderness environments, embankments with/without high angle rope rescues, swiftwater rescues, body recoveries, and searches on lakes, rivers and mountains in avalanche terrain. In addition, the team maintains a presence in the community to support public safety and education.

Although CVSAR provides most of the specialized technical equipment, members are expected to equip themselves with appropriate clothing, footwear and personal items.



We currently have 4 types of active membership:


Member in Training: Probationary active member enrolled in a GSAR course who is working on becoming a Full Member upon completion of the GSAR course and other applicable obligations. 


Full Member: GSAR trained active member meeting outlined obligations as per the Membership Policy #001 that are necessary to have an effective Search and Rescue Group. These obligations include: GSAR course completion, first aid certified, attending general/specialty practices, tasks and community events, involvement with at least one standing committee, acting as an ambassador for CVSAR in the community, and displaying conduct in line with the values and mission of CVSAR.


Associate Member: Non-GSAR trained active member who contributes to the objectives and goals of the society and is not required to participate in tasks and training. Obligations include: attending community events, being involved in at least one standing committee, acting as an ambassador of CVSAR in the community, and displaying conduct in line with the values and mission of CVSAR.


Special Resource: Active member who provides a specific skill set (ex. GIS Technician, CAA Level 2, Accountant) that contributes to the goals and objectives of the society. Obligations include: first aid certified (within capacity), acting as an ambassador of CVSAR in the community and displaying conduct in line with the values and mission of CVSAR.



This web site has been created by and is provided by VolunteerRescue of SKRPC Holdings Inc., Fernie, BC, Canada.