Seanoa Isaac has been volunteering for Wairarapa Search and Rescue since 2017. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN
You can’t beat the smile on someone’s face when they know they are going to be okay, says Wairarapa Search and Rescue volunteer Seanoa Isaac.
Isaac has been volunteering for Land Search and Rescue since early 2017, when he noticed their work while doing a trail race.
After completing a race, over the southern crossing route, he found out that previously the race had to be run in pairs until LandSAR volunteers joined in to help marshal the event.
“It was a horrible day over the tops when I did it, it was horrendous. But they were still up there making sure all the competitors were safe,” Isaac said.
He has always loved the bush environments after serving briefly in the NZ Defence Force, and running in the hills reignited his passion. He wanted to give back and use experience from being up in the hills to contribute.
His most memorable moment was on his first rescue in the northern Tararua Range after a man’s personal locator beacon was activated.
Weather conditions nearly had the team pull the pin for the night, but they pushed through and found the man around 1am, lying next to the track and mildly hypothermic.
“He was pretty happy to see us I can tell you that,” Isaac said.
“He reckoned there would have been a high chance he wouldn’t have been around if we hadn’t met him that night.”
Isaac described getting a person in that position back home and out for a few more tramps as “an amazing reward”.
LandSAR has thousands of volunteers around New Zealand and Isaac said there were all sorts involved in Wairarapa — “old, young, farmers, builders, tradesman, lawyers – you’ve got the works”.
When LandSAR is contacted for help, there is a list of volunteers who are called on.
Isaac says the first thing you do when you get the call is look up at the hills.
The teams of three are always changing, depending on who is available.
“You always hope you can get a helicopter ride out the next day.”
Isaac encourages anyone who is thinking about volunteering to do so.
“They will give you a role based on your abilities,” he said.
“Even if you think you are not fit enough or don’t have enough experience, everyone has got to start somewhere.”
When asked how long he will continue, Isaac says: “I love it and I can use it as an excuse to keep fit by going up and doing some more trail running … and get off some domestic chores”.