$10-million boost for those that brave search and rescues in B.C.

Search and rescue volunteers in B.C., belong to a small army 2,500 strong

By Naomi Yamamoto

Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness

Somewhere in the province, almost every single evening, a volunteer leaves the comfort of bed or the dinner table, or gives up the opportunity to celebrate a birthday or to read their child a bedtime story, because they want to be a lifeline. As a search and rescue volunteer in B.C., they belong to a small army 2,500 strong that deploys for the sake and safety of the lost and injured in our mountains and backcountry. They forego time with family and friends to seek and to find. Their selflessness is woven into the fabric of their public service, and today the B.C. government announced a $10-million investment that continues on our commitment to strengthening them and the tapestry of public safety throughout the province.

B.C. has the busiest ground search and rescue group in all of Canada. In fact, the number of deployments by our volunteers in B.C. outnumbers the combined amount performed by all other search and rescue teams nation-wide. There are 80 teams in B.C. with over 2,500 volunteers embarking on 1,300 missions a year. On its own that’s remarkable, but it’s particularly extraordinary in the context and contrast of just 2,000 search and rescue missions nation-wide, coast-to-coast, each year.

Our volunteers are remarkable folks doing extraordinary things. Their teams are an invaluable resource to the people of this province. They donate more than 100,000 hours a year scouring the trails and forests, rappelling into steep ravines and weathering the worst of the elements to help others.

The Province, through the $10-million in one-time funding to the B.C. Search and Rescue Association, will help ensure that the search and rescue groups in communities have the additional resources to help refresh technical training, replace or rejuvenate rescue equipment, and explore new technologies that can be applied in the field. This investment builds on the $6.3 million that the B.C. government is already providing each year to cover 100 per cent of the operational costs for search and rescue deployments, as well as training and equipment, and the insurance and liability for the members of the 80 groups serving across the B.C. landscape.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our troops of tirelessly dedicated search and rescue volunteers. They brave difficult situations and the worst of Mother Nature’s unleashing of wind, rain and cold. They work in the darkness of night and certainly some dark situations. They work in some of the most complex terrain and most challenging search and rescue environments in all of North America, and are recognized nationally and internationally for meeting that challenge. Recently the B.C. government provided the additional $10-million to help ensure their continued success and to help bolster the safety net for those that enjoy B.C. for all its outdoor splendour.

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