Search and rescue groups receive increase in grants

The Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) has recently approved an increase in funding from $5,000 to $7,500 for search and rescue groups in the region.

There are currently five active search and rescue groups in the TNRD. The groups are based in Kamloops, Wells Gray Country, Barriere, Logan Lake and Nicola Valley.

Each of these groups will receive an annual operating grant of $7,500 which will be disbursed in 2010. The 100 Mile House Search and Rescue Team, who also conducts some searches in the TNRD even though they’re in the Cariboo Regional District, have also been given an annual grant of $2,500 by the TNRD, said Terry Kress, TNRD’s manager of Emergency Preparedness.

This increase would cover the inflation rate over the years. Search and rescue teams are volunteer organizations, often relying on fundraising and grants to keep services available to the community.

“We certainly appreciate the support of the TNRD,” said Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) President Brad Russell. This grant is one of three revenue streams for the organization, he added.

KSAR also recently received a new $180,000 command vehicle through a joint funding program with the TNRD, where the district matches every dollar that the society raises in funds.

Russell said KSAR’s operating budget covers insurance, training, capital purchases and gear in addition to overhead costs. After the recent incident in Golden where a search and rescue society was sued by a skier who went missing and whose wife died in the ordeal, insurance now costs $2,100 per year for search and rescue teams, he said.

Search and rescue services within Sun Peaks are currently provided by B.C.’s Provincial Emergency Preparedness program, with the closest search and rescue group located in Kamloops. The importance of search and rescue services are more pronounced in a ski resort setting as quick action is required where skiers and other recreationalists can easily go missing in the backcountry.

Search and rescue is definitely a required service in the province, not just for locals but also in the tourism industry. Russell recalls one incident when a tourist went into diabetic shock about nine hours into a hunting trip. He was already in Stage Three hypothermia by the time the team arrived. “We had to airlift him; we’re talking about him being 10 minutes away from dying. We finally got him to an ambulance; we saved his life. The next day he’s back on a plane and back to Austria. What do you think he’s telling his family and friends? ‘(We got into trouble in Canada) but boy, they saved my ass.”

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