The ground search-and-rescue response team in Prince Rupert is getting a $25,000 boost from the provincial government.
Eight northern B.C. Search and Rescue Association teams will take a portion of the $363,000 funding to invest in administrative support, training and new equipment. The manager of Prince Rupert Ground Search and Rescue (SAR), Dallas Allison, said he’s going to push towards a rope rescue team and to establish a helicopter hoist rescue team.
“There are certain areas where we need to be able to drop in should someone break a leg or be seriously injured. We need to have a team, including a paramedic, that can drop in and assess the patient and bring them back to safety. Part of the money will go to that,” Allison said.
With the industry development and prospects in the region he’s planning for the opportunity to access helicopter hoists and for training that is available. The challenge for the northern team is that members have to pay for their own travel and accommodations to attend training courses.
“We are fortunate in British Columbia to have a beautiful and rugged landscape to explore, as well as a dedicated group of individuals who make serving the safety of others their passion. Although recreational and personal safety is everyone’s responsibility, it is comforting to know we have trained and dedicated volunteers at the ready,” said the Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Naomi Yamamoto when funding was announced Aug. 4.
Prince Rupert’s Ground SAR formed after September 2013 when Allison joined the search for two mushroom pickers who had gone missing in Terrace. Allison expected to join Prince Rupert SAR but the group had disbanded several years prior. He helped bring SAR back by putting together a board of directors, and getting approvals from the RCMP and Emergency Management BC.
“Initially the members were paying their own travel and accommodations, and registration fees. But we’ve been able to get a little bit of funding with a pretty exciting announcement coming soon,” Allison said.
The biggest challenge for recruiting is that each volunteer needs at least $2,000 worth of equipment including backpacks, ropes, compasses, survival and communications gear. The organization has been able to secure funding to cover those costs, and the Port of Prince Rupert has made a significant financial commitment to the team through its Community Investment Fund, and the exact amount will be announced this autumn.
The new funding coming to Ground SAR will also go toward savings for a command centre. Currently, the team is operating outside the manager’s house and they are going to start applying for more grants to get a new facility.
Ground SAR is recruiting for more members, and Oct. 1 will be the first training session. There are currently 20 members and they can top it up to 30. New recruits have to do a 72-hour course including an overnight with all the gear they would take on a search. Successful recruits join the team after they are tested. To join, contact Dallas Allison through the Prince Rupert SAR Facebook group.