With hundreds of searches of experience to draw on, Paul Berry intimately knows the emotional journey of when a rescue turns into a recovery situation or the long hours that volunteers put into finding a lost hiker.
Berry is the president and search manager of Comox Valley Search and Rescue, and the guest on the second edition of the Comox Valley Record’s new podcast Off The Page, which is out on Feb. 2.
In the episode, he talks about his experience from being a teacher, his background in the army reserve to his memorable first rescue on the Glacier Trail, and what training and operations are like for his team during a pandemic.
“I do think that probably my first operation, as a brand new member, has had the most lasting and impactful impression for me,” Berry recalls in the podcast.
“And I was fortunate to be one of the very first members on the initial insertion team, who hiked up to switchbacks on the trail to reach this individual. We got to him just before dark and realized because of the nature of the injury and some concerns about circulation in the leg, we need to get him out quickly.”
Berry says he looked down the switchbacks and as far as he could see, he spotted little pinpricks of light, which turned out to be search members from all around Vancouver Island who responded to the search and to assist the individual to get down from the mountain.
“It just spoke to me how so many of these professional search volunteers have dropped everything to help (someone) and they don’t know at any time within the day or night.”
Additionally, Berry talks about the emotional and mental impacts of working on incidents in a small community, particularly when SAR members know those involved in an event.
“It can be a really difficult challenge, and we’ve certainly had many experiences over the last number of years, where that has been the case and times, particularly if it’s someone in a leadership position, they’ve had to remove themselves from that leadership position so that their emotions and their emotional connection to the individual doesn’t get in the way.”
And where does Berry go to relax, or to recharge physically and mentally after a difficult mission?
You’ll have to listen to Off The Page in order to find out.
To listen to the full episode, download Off The Page on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and everywhere podcasts are heard, or visit omny.fm/shows/off-the-page.
New episodes of Off The Page drop every Wednesday. To submit podcast topics or guest ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org.