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Electric bikes called a boon for search and rescue team

Electric bikes may be life savers

They can go fast and help push you up hills.

“As you peddle and you get up a hill, the drive train kicks in and it assists you to make your way up,” said Kevin Bernie of Central Okanagan Search and Rescue.

Battery powered, or electric, bikes have been around for a long time, but now, for the first time, they are being used by Central Okanagan Search and Rescue.

“To the best knowledge and research we have done, we are the only team in B.C., and likely Canada, with an e-bike team,” said Birnie.

READ MORE: RCAF Search and Rescue Helicopters saves two from Cordova Lake

COSAR recently spent thousands buy seven electric bikes. Four COSAR members purchased their own, bringing the total to 11 bikes that can be used in the event of an emergency.

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“We can be faster and we can be more responsive once we are there, rather than trying to catch your breath after you’ve pedalled halfway up Crawford Trails,” said Brian Stainsby of COSAR.

That’s a spot ideal for training because it’s a good representation of the kind of terrain that search and rescue crews have to often navigate in the Okanagan.

“It’s usually very steep or somewhat rugged and areas that would normally  take us a lot longer and likely tire out our members as they get to their subjects that we would locate,” said Stainsby.

Precious time that could make the difference between life and death.

“Most definitely it can certainly make a difference between somebody surviving and not surviving, or having a worse injury versus recovery much quicker  because we get to them quicker,” said Stainsby.

READ MORE: Search and rescue teams run training exercise ahead of busy summer season

COSAR acquired these e-bikes just in May and already they’ve been used in half a dozen searches.

The most recent one involving an elderly man with dementia who had wandered away.

“This allowed us to cover large area in short time and I am happy to say we had a successful outcome in that search,” said Stainsby.

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The pedal-power in the Central Okanagan now being closely watched by many other search and rescue groups

“Vernon and Penticton and actually many places throughout  the province,” said Stainsby.  “They’re looking into it now as well so we are looking at the Kelowna model possibly being as something that could be implemented province-wide.”