Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) has a lot more security over the next three years after the B.C. government announced $18.6 million in funding for SAR groups across the province today.
The announcement was welcomed by KSAR president Alan Hobler, who says the three-year commitment lets his team know they can "keep the lights on," so to speak.
"For our team this is really exciting news," he says. "We really struggle to have a sustainable funding model. Being able to know that we have continued and consistent funding is really important for long-term planning. Previously, we used to have to go out and knock on doors, sell hot dogs and look for donations from different places and apply for different funding. You never know, year to year, how much funding you're going to get. With this new model, we're going to be able to do some longer-term planning and we'll have a much better idea of what our income is going to be and what we're able to afford."
This new funding is in addition to funding that the government already provides each year to cover search and rescue operational costs for deployment, training, equipment, and the insurance and liability for the 80 groups serving B.C.
A committee of representatives from Emergency Management BC and the BC Search and Rescue Association(BCSARA) will determine how the funding is distributed. Hobler isn't sure how much KSAR will be receiving yet but notes the BCSARA has previously had "equitable ways of supporting teams that needed new equipment."
"We definitely have equipment needs," says Hobler. "We do have a pretty extensive list of all kinds of stuff. I'm not sure at this point and time what we're going to be putting forward, but definitely the bigger, more expensive trucks and vehicles are on our list of things we need to replace at some time."
KSAR logged 3,500 task hours last year and Hobler previously said they anticipate 2019 will be just as busy.
At the announcement this morning in Coquitlam, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth also noted that funding will go towards AdventureSmart and Critical Incident Stress Management.
"Our members are often exposed to some pretty extreme stressful situations and it's really good that the province is providing funding to help our members get support in some of these situations," says Hobler.
– with files from the Canadian Press