Whenever. Wherever. Period.

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Serving the Community and Reuniting Families Since 1969

Cape Breton Search & Rescue (CBSAR) is an emergency service provider dedicated to locating and rescuing lost persons in the Cape Breton area (and beyond). Established in November 1969, CBSAR work closely with the Emergency Management Office of Nova Scotia (EMO-NS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Cape Breton Regional Police Service and local agencies to provide a number of lifesaving services to our community. These services include: lost and missing person searches, police evidence searches, Project Lifesaver, lost prevention education, civil emergency response and more.

A registered charitable organization and member of the Nova Scotia Ground Search & Rescue Association (NSGSARA), CBSAR is one of four (4) teams that serve the Cape Breton area (Eastern Zone) alongside Cheticamp, Inverness and Straight Area GSAR.


History

The Search for Billy Antle (November, 1969)

Where it all started. In November ’69, Billy Antle became separated from his hunting party while in the Wreck Cove Mountain area. This in turn, sparked one of the largest volunteer search efforts Atlantic Canada had seen to date. When word of Billy’s plight reached home, friends, family and complete strangers responded with every fire and military resource they could gather. Friends chartered a fixed wing aircraft and more than 400 volunteers combed the Cape Breton Highlands for five days in search of Billy. “I’ll see Monday but I won’t see Tuesday” he recalled. On the fifth day, he was spotted via helicopter and lifted to safety. Billy, a 35-year-old father of five had done the impossible. He survived nearly a week of frigid temperatures, continuous rain and snow–all without food.

The Search for Billy Antle,Wreck Cove Mountain (1969). ©Clarence Barrett

The Search for Billy Antle,Wreck Cove Mountain (1969) ©Clarence Barrett

Following the search for Billy, the need for an organized GSAR initiative in the province had become apparent. Eighteen (18) days later, Cape Breton Search & Rescue–the first Atlantic Canadian GSAR organization–was born out the basement of St. Augustines Church in Sydney, NS.  The rest is history.

Swissair Flight 111 (September 1998)

September 02, 1998 marked the date of both Canada’s second largest aviation disaster and Nova Scotia’s largest Mutual Aid operation. Following the crash of Swissair Flight 111 off the coast of Peggy’s Cove, CBSAR was dispatched alongside GSAR teams from across the Maritimes to assist Royal Canadian Mounted Police with search and recovery operations. For more than two (2) weeks, CBSAR volunteers combed shorelines and surrounding areas, recovering both human remains and aircraft wreckage. The largest civil emergency response in CBSAR history, the images of Swissair still haunt some of our senior members.

Swiss Air Disaster, Peggy's Cove (1998) ©CBC

Swiss Air Disaster, Peggy’s Cove (1998) ©CBC

The Search for James Delorey (December 2009)

On Saturday December 05, 2009, 7-year-old James Delorey wandered away from his home in South Bar, NS wearing only jeans, a t-shirt and vest. James, who had autism and didn’t speak had apparently followed the family dog, Chance, out of the backyard and into the dense woods. James’ disappearance immediately sparked a massive search effort by GSAR teams from across Nova Scotia as well as hundreds of community volunteers. Having to rely on unconventional search techniques, CBSAR personnel relentlessly combed the woods for signs of James. On the second day, a violent wind and snow storm severely hindered the operation. “At times, it snowed so hard you couldn’t see a hand in front of your face” recalled Sharon MacSween, President of CBSAR.

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The Search for James Delorey, South Bar (2009) ©Cape Breton Post

After two days and thousands of man hours, volunteers were sent a miracle: the family dog had returned home. Search personnel immediately followed the dogs trail which led them to a brook near Kilkenny Lake. There, they found James huddled under brush, alive but unconscious and suffering from severe hypothermia. He was immediately air lifted to the IWK Children’s hospital in Halifax, NS but died the following morning as a result of his injuries.

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CBSAR members tattood in memory of James Delorey (2009)

The search for James Delorey is one the team holds especially close to their hearts. The case itself has become part of the provincial Lost Person Behavior curriculum and is the basis for CBSARs adoption of the Project Lifesaver Program–a trackable RF emitting bracelet program designed for individuals at-risk of wandering due to cognitive conditions.