For the second year in a row, the B.C. government has provided nearly $6 million for ground search and rescue (GSAR) groups across the province.
The funding is part of an annual agreement inked last year between the provincial government and the BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA).
“B.C.’s search and rescue groups are made up of hard-working and dedicated volunteers who provide critical services to people in B.C.,” Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, said in a news release. “We’re proud to support search and rescue groups, including those helping with on-the-ground wildfire evacuations, by continuing to provide sustainable funding through this first-of-its-kind agreement.”
B.C. has more than 3,000 GSAR volunteers registered in 78 groups. Provincial agencies like police and EMS request GSAR support more than 1,500 times per year, the government said.
The annual funding to BCSARA supports rescue equipment, essential training, protective equipment for volunteers and administration costs like insurance. It also covers operational activities, including the outdoor education program AdventureSmart and mental-health supports for volunteers.
“The sustainable funding provided by the province is vital for GSAR groups across B.C.,” said Chris Mushumanski, president of BCSARA. “It funds important equipment, our programs, and supports the volunteers after tough calls with our critical incident stress-management team. We appreciate this important investment in public safety as the busy season for searches, rescues and delivering evacuation notices is well underway.”
The $6 million in annual funding is on top of incident-related funding B.C. gives each year to cover operational search-and-rescue costs. In 2021-2022 that was $7.85 million.
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