$500K supports public safety in the backcountry

Canadian Avalanche Centre and BC Search and Rescue Association have each received $250,000 in gaming grants

Heading into the holiday season, the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) and BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) have each received $250,000 in gaming grants to support their operations and public safety efforts.

However, the gift they really want this year can only come from you – getting the right gear, training and information before going into the backcountry.

The CAC produces daily avalanche forecasts for most of the mountainous regions in western Canada, outside national parks – close to 250,000 square kilometres.

The BCSARA supports more than 2,500 search-and-rescue volunteers in more than 80 communities. Both groups support backcountry safety public education efforts in order reduce deaths and injuries.

This gaming grant funding is part of $4.1 million for search and rescue, firefighting and other emergency-related organizations.

“We’ve seen a steady downward trend in the number of avalanche  fatalities over the past ten years. This is especially significant when we consider the tremendous increase in winter backcountry use over that same time period. This funding allows us to continue to provide our public avalanche warning service as well as our public education efforts,” says Gilles Valade, CAC executive director.  “The goal of the CAC is to ensure that everyone going into avalanche terrain carries essential safety gear-a transceiver, probe and shovel-and knows how to use it, has taken an Avalanche Skills Training course, and checks the avalanche forecast before heading out.”

Don Bindon, BC SARA president commented, “Search and Rescue volunteers respond to more than 1,000 incidents of lost or injured people every year in the B.C. wilderness, more than the rest of Canada combined. Through BCSARA, this funding will continue to support training and education for our dedicated volunteers. Our teams know first-hand the importance of education. Making sure you leave a trip plan and sticking to it when exploring B.C.’s backcountry in the winter can mean the difference between life and death if you get lost or injured.”

Enrolment in Avalanche Skills Training courses co-ordinated through the CAC continues to climb. Last year, close to 7,000 people took that two-day course.

For a one-stop shop of information and links on backcountry safety, visit Emergency Info BC:

http://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/campaigns/backcountry-safety.html

For information on avalanche training or to view avalanche bulletins, visit http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/