Nathan Tremblett was studying when the call came in.
He had an assignment due for one of his classes in the forestry technician program at the College of the North Atlantic in Corner Brook when the shrill of his cellular phone interrupted everything.
It was a notification from Bay of Islands Volunteer Search and Rescue. There was a snowmobiler missing and overdue near Lark Harbour on the south shore of the Bay of Islands.
Overcome with a surge of adrenaline, Tremblett — a relatively new member of the unit — dropped everything and grabbed his gear.
A short time later, the Conception Bay South native arrived at the town hall in Lark Harbour where he would be helping with the search as a support worker.
He wasn’t a member of the group long, and he wasn’t sure what to expect when he arrived.
Tremblett would be tasked with logistics and helping the unit’s more experienced members with some map work before they headed out on the search. It was work he had done in the classroom and applied to the very real situation.
Prior to this, he had been a part of some community events; things like Christmas parades were more the norm than trying to locate a missing person in the January cold.
The work paid off. The man was found and the pressure started to wear off.
Still, it was a while before Tremblett could rid himself of what he was feeling after.
“It's hard to describe the feeling of helping out with a search,” he said. “It was an hour before I could sleep. “I just kept replaying the night over and over in my head.”
Tremblett represents a surge of youth involving itself in the local search and rescue rank. He is one of several forestry students from the College of the North Atlantic who are turning their schooling into real world experience.
I’ve written before that it takes a particular person to volunteer for a group that puts its own members in a form of peril.
Some like the prestige that comes with being a part of the group, but, for the most part, volunteering for a search and rescue group — or a fire department for that matter — means being prepared to see some things the average person does not want to.
It's very much as selfless as a fire department and involves the same amount of training to be competent enough to find someone lost in the woods.
There are 14 first- and second-year students in the program. Their involvement has led to an increase in members — and a lowering of the average age — compared to where they were traditionally.
Recently the Bay of Islands group held a meeting where 38 people attended, many of which were under the age of 25.
“It's been an easy transition for us,” Tremblett said of how he and his peers have been accepted by the group. “They put a lot of trust in us. That makes it easier and allows us to form a quicker relationship.”
Being from the other side of the province, Tremblett isn’t sure of his future with the Bay of Island search and rescue group.
If he stays in Corner Brook, it is something he will continue to be a part of.
However, he is sure of one thing: Wherever he ends up in his career, he’ll be involved in search and rescue.