South Cariboo Search and Rescue receives funding

Province invests in Cariboo-Chilcotin ground search and rescue societies

On June 3, it was announced the South Cariboo Search and Rescue (SCSAR) Society has received $64,836.69 to help find, rescue and recover people stranded and/or lost in the South Cariboo.

SCSAR was one of three Cariboo and Chilcotin-based search-and-rescue organizations to receive a total of more than $129,000 from the B.C. Liberal government’s $10 million in one-time funding commitments to the B.C. Search and Rescue Association.

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue received $39,803.19 and the West Chilcotin Search and Rescue got $25,000.

The funding will help bolster training, administrative support and equipment renewals for these critical public-safety lifeline volunteers, and it is definitely appreciated by the search-and-rescue groups that are receiving more calls for assistance every year.

This additional funding is richly deserved for the difficult work these volunteers do – often in the most challenging conditions, says Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett.

“As organizations that depend on volunteers, this extra boost will make a difference.”

The provincial government wants the money to go toward training for technical search-and-rescue responses, personal protective equipment to ensure their members are safe, and other equipment that supports search-and-rescue operations.

SCSAR Society president Mark Seilis says the extra funding is very good news for the local group.

He notes the SCSAR gets around $25,000 funding through the tax base from the recent referendum, which takes care of the fixed costs of the local operation.

“The new money would help us get a new response truck and storage facilities in our hall. Our main response truck is from the ‘90s, and the new one will be a welcome addition.

“We’re working on plans for a customized box on the back and it will have some features for equipment and charging, and it will need to be outfitted with certain radios.”

Noting there is always equipment upgrade that’s needed, Seilis says they will have to see how much money is left over from the final bill on the new response truck.

Seilis explains ropes and lifejackets have to be replaced over time and GPS devices have to be changed out because they become erratic after a while.

“The funding, as I understand it, is supposed to be over a two-year period, so we expect some more funding next year, assuming everything goes well.”

He adds that next year’s funding will be earmarked for skills training and equipment.

“We were led to understand there will be another instalment next year for approximately the same amount.”

Seilis explains bringing in an instructor to train the whole group can be upwards of a $10,000 bill when equipment and expenses are included.

He adds they have had four new people join the team recently.