Rotorua search and rescue staff and volunteers have already had a busy year but they are gearing up for a hectic summer.
Detective Sergeant John Wilson of the Rotorua police, who also heads the Rotorua Search and Rescue squad, said the team had been called to 69 incidents so far this year.
The team is made up of police staff, Land Search and Rescue volunteers and the Rotorua Lakes Volunteer Coastguard. On several occasions, the team has also been aided by either HeliPro and the BayTrust Rescue Helicopter.
Mr Wilson said this year's jobs had been a mix of land and water searches. "The types of jobs have included locating lost and injured hunters, mountain bikers and trampers, locating wandering dementia sufferers, rescuing stranded boaties, searching Rotorua's landfill for an emergency locator beacon and as part of a homicide investigation. "Sadly, Search and Rescue also dealt with four deceased persons during the year, including James Dodds, who was shot in the Paeroa Ranges in September, and Andrew Wroe, who was killed in a boating accident in January."
Mr Wilson said one of the stand-out jobs was the successful search for a 42-year-old pig hunter on Mount Tarawera in July. "When he was eventually found, his core body temperature was 5C below what it should have been. If he had not been found when he was, he would certainly have perished."
Most of the jobs involved helping police Land Search and Rescue volunteers and Coastguard. "It needs to be acknowledged that these people make a significant contribution to search and rescue, and give freely of their time to help police in delivering the services which are required to help those in distress in the outdoors. Thanks also to their families and employers who support them and allow them the time away from home and work which this sort of volunteer work entails."
Mr Wilson said with summer here, police anticipated a spike in the need for search and rescue as people took advantage of the good weather. "It is timely to remind those going into the outdoors of the essential Outdoor Safety Codes for their chosen activities."