South Cariboo Search and Rescue members stand in front of their new Ford 5500. Brendan Kyle Jure photo.

South Cariboo Search and Rescue unveil their new truck

The truck was purchased through various donations and grants

South Cariboo Search and Rescue (SCSAR) have unveiled the long-awaited truck they purchased with the money donated to them from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Taseko Mines Gibraltar, the South Cariboo Fire Relief Fund (SCFRF) and others.

“About eight years ago all of our executive and directors identified the goal to get a new rescue truck, something that’s reliable [and] something that can move people and equipment all in one group,” said James Seeley, one of the three SCSR team managers and past president. “We started fundraising and brainstorming. We started writing grant applications and the way it came through was a little bit of grant money, a little bit of money from the BC Search and Rescue Association and some corporation grants.”

RBC donated $50,000 to SCSR in December of 2017 for their efforts during the 2017 wildfires. The SCFRF, which committee is made up of members from the 100 Mile Lions Club, the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) and others such as MLA Donna Barnett, donated $9,000 for the same reason.

The donation allowed SCSAR to purchase a new truck affording them to carry more gear and crew members affording them to outfit for any type of operation whether it be swift water rescues, avalanches and many other types of situations.

RELATED: RBC gives 50,000 to Search and Rescue

“We bought a Dodge [5500] from Regency and we had a box custom built by Accurate Metal Works up in Prince George because Prince George Search and Rescue just had a custom-built truck for them and we really liked what the did so we followed the same plan,” said Seeley. “We can load it with technical rescue gear meaning our high angle rope rescue or extreme terrain rescue gear, first aid gear, stretchers. We can take five people at a time to a rescue scene.”

Prior to the new Dodge 5500, which they got at a fleet price, SCSAR had a 1996 1-ton Chevrolet that became their mainstay rescue truck. They received it around 2003 as a donation from West Coast Transmission. The truck was a work truck and can carry five people as well as equipment.

Before they received the Chevrolet, members of SCSAR had to use their own vehicles.

“It was very difficult to organize and get people responding because any equipment we had we had to throw in different trucks,” recalled Seeley.

RELATED: South Cariboo Search and Rescue Receives Funding

Over time, the truck’s reliability diminished. Seeley said there have been mechanical issues. However, the truck will still be in use to the addition to the new Ford.

“This means we have two trucks that can go to the same scene with ten people and that coordinates things way better,” said Seeley. “Plus it’s the reliability of it. We don’t just play search and rescue in the summer. We go 24/7 365 days of the year. It could be -17 degrees at night in a snowstorm and we could be asked to go somewhere. We need to be able to move people reliably and safely and that’s a huge factor in getting this truck.”

Another factor said Seeley, was that the new truck has enough power to haul their command trailer, allowing them to set up a remote command unit at a scene.

Seeley said that the SCSAR typically responds to between 15 and 20 calls a year and that they are not just local calls and can also be anything from missing mushroom pickers to swift water responses.

“We assist neighbouring search and rescue teams because of our technical expertise,” he said, including they have helped in Kamloops, Prince George and in the Central Cariboo and West Chilcotin areas. “Having a truck that allows us to travel another 200 kilometres like that anytime of the year is a huge thing for us.”

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