Central Okanagan Search and Rescue is now the only SAR team in Canada to have an e-bike team.
The special mountain bikes will be used for urban searches and back country initial-response calls.
The seven giant Full-E+ SX Pro bikes have an electric motor assist that allows search riders to get to an injured person faster to render aid quicker.
The bikes have a 500-watt pedal-assist motor that aids in climbing, and the full suspension mountain bikes will be able to handle most hiking and biking trails in the Okanagan.
COSAR e-bike team coordinator Brian Stainsby says they allow searchers to cover a far larger area than they can on foot and more effectively than with ATVs.
E-bikes owned by COSAR members have already been used in four search and rescue operations.
Stainsby says in one case they had an injured mountain biker on Smith Creek last fall.
The trail was inaccessible to ATVs, but two members on e-bikes were able to get to the subject and stabilize her while waiting for the B.C. Air Rescue helicopter.
This spring, e-bikes were used in the five-day search for a missing senior in West Kelowna.
E-bike team search leader Karen Gretzinger says they helped cover a lot of ground, and because they are quieter than a quad or a motorcycle, they allowed searchers to use sound search techniques beneficial at night.
Funding for the bikes, which retail for $5,500, came primarily from a British Columbia Search & Rescue Association grant and from COSAR fundraising events.
“We’d like to thank Cyclepath Kelowna and Giant Bicycles Canada for helping us with the cost,” says Stainsby. “Without their support, we would not have been able to field a full team.”