When it was decided to give Vernon Search and Rescue member Pete Wise a pin for his more than 55 years of service to search and rescue, a design for said pin had to be created.
That’s because nobody has ever been given one before.
A pin was designed specifically for Wise and his nearly 60 years of volunteer service to search and rescue in B.C.
“I’m the first. It’s pretty special,” said Wise, 72, of the honour bestowed upon him. “It’s not really about me. It’s about all the people that have supported me. It’s about the team, the members. If one succeeds, we all succeed.”
Prior to moving to the Okanagan, Wise got hooked on search and rescue as a Rover Scout with the 1st Port Hammond Alouettes as a 16-year-old. His first rescue call was for him and his fellow Alouettes to help civil defence get a man stuck on a mountainside off safely. Wise and crew succeeded.
Since then, search and rescue has been in his blood. And it’s tough to drain.
Wise is one of the founding members of the Search and Rescue Advisory Council, now known as B.C. Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA). He helped develop search and rescue courses and policies organizations like his home club rely on today.
Wise was given a lifetime membership to BCSARA in the fall of 2019.
Today, his vast knowledge and expertise are still relied upon by Vernon Search and Rescue.
“I know all the nooks and crannies in the hills, the trail systems, I’ve been doing this my entire life,” said Wise, who hopes to continue with search and rescue.
“I want to make 60 years. I’ll keep doing this as long as the team puts up with me.”
There’s a good chance of that happening.
When Wise was diagnosed in December 2019 with hydrocephalus, a condition in which an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid occurs within the brain, he still insisted on attending VSAR’s Christmas party. So, members used a rope pulley system and got Wise into the hall on a stretcher.
He was in Vernon Jubilee Hospital for a few months but is recuperating nicely, thanks, he said, to the great care he received from nurses and doctors at VJH. In fact, Wise has helped VSAR on a couple of recent searches.
“It’s in your blood, you can’t leave it,” he said of his desire to continue on. “Somebody is in trouble, somebody needs help.”