June 19th, 2024

Locally-raised author pens book about risk and rescue


By Cal Braid - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 10, 2022.

Rescue Me: Behind the Scenes of Search and Rescue, by Cathalynn Labonte-Smith

Author Cathalynn Labonte-Smith has a new book, Rescue Me: Behind the Scenes of Search and Rescue (2022), which details stories from search and rescue specialists throughout North America.

She spent her childhood in Lethbridge and southern Alberta and now lives on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, where her husband Stephen volunteers with search and rescue. Seeing firsthand what it involves sparked her interest in the stories about the quest to find lost and missing people.

Growing up, her parents owned Trader Vic’s, an antique shop in downtown Lethbridge.

“I grew up in the store,” she said. “In grade five, we moved to a little hobby farm out in Raley. The first time I saw my name in print was in the Lethbridge Herald – a letter to the editor. That was over 40 years ago and I’ve been fortunate enough to continue being published since then.”

The family moved to B.C. in her second year at the U of L, and she finished her degree in creative writing at UBC.

“I worked as a technical writer after graduation and was a freelance journalist. I wrote for the Vancouver Sun and the Province. I did that for a long time and then I became a secondary teacher and I’m retired from that now,” she said. She’s still an active freelancer, “when I feel like it and when something comes up that interests me.”

Rescue Me, her third book, is a collection of stories she collected while interviewing over 60 search and rescue volunteers. She contacted subjects from all over North America and after edits and cuts, 69 cases made it into the book.

“I organize them by the type of rescue,” she said. “So I have avalanches, caves, desert, ground, ice, K9s, mountains, horse mounted search and rescue, and that was really interesting. Then there’s plane crashes, swift water, and then there’s a chapter on people who are still missing.” She said that search and rescue efforts often involve looking for people’s remains.

She said that it’s difficult to choose a single story from the book that made the greatest impact on her.

“The missing persons stories are always wrenching; when they’re looking for people and they just never turn up again. The serial killer stories really upset me. Some of the stories have really happy outcomes when they find people or people self-rescue; when they’re packing up to go after searching for a week and the person just emerges from the bush. Those are happy stories. The stories are all so intense.”

The stories of risk are described by Caitlin Press Inc. as, “thrilling first-hand accounts (that) will forever change how you prepare for your next outdoor adventure.”

Rescue Me can be found at caitlin-press.com/our-books/rescue-me/

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