“Wells Gray Search and Rescue is pleased to see the government of B.C. recognize the commitment by the 80 volunteer search and rescue teams in the Province of British Columbia.”
That was the response of Ryan McLarty, the president of and a search manager with Wells Gray Search and Rescue, following a recent announcement that the province was committing $10 million for search and rescue teams in B.C.
“A lot of volunteer hours go into securing funding to purchase the rescue equipment required to respond to wilderness and remote emergencies on behalf of the tasking agencies,” McLarty added. “These SAR tasks on any given day may require avalanche, swift water, rope and ground search and rescue equipment to safely deal with these situations.”
The spokesperson noted that tasks can come from a variety of agencies, including the RCMP, BC Ambulance, BC Coroners Service, fire departments, Parks Canada and Canadian Armed Forces.
“Going forward we hope that this is the first step in securing long term ongoing funding to ensure SAR teams are equipped to continue responding provincewide,” McLarty said. “Currently Wells Gray SAR like many of the teams in the region utilize matching annual grants from the TNRD and the BC Lotteries community gaming grant fund to secure our yearly funding.”
According to a media release, the government will be providing $10-million in one-time funding to help bolster training, administrative support and equipment renewals.
Once allocated, the funding will be spent according to the needs of the local ground search and rescue teams, replacing or updating equipment, providing administrative support and paying for new or additional training.
“The service that search and rescue groups provide in their communities is recognized as an invaluable asset to the people of this province and today we welcome the additional support of the B.C. government to help strengthen the work that’s being done,” said president of BC Search and Rescue Association Chris Kelly. “While we continue to work with the province on the proposed alternate support model for search and rescue, this money will help relieve some of the funding pressures and provide for increased training and other tools for those who tirelessly serve as volunteers.”
This investment will build on the $6.3 million that the B.C. government is already providing each year to cover ground search and rescue operational costs for deployment, as well as training and equipment costs, and the insurance and liability for the members of the 80 groups serving across the B.C. landscape.