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Search And Rescue Clarifying “Paid” Comments

Fraser Valley/Vancouver – Recent comments to the CBC by North Shore Search and Rescue has raised eyebrows about an organization that has saved lives, and all done by volunteers working on a budget funded by grants and donations.

“Team Leader Mike Danks said: North Shore Rescue wants to pursue other funding models and one idea, they say, is to turn the volunteer service into a paid, professional one. The NSR is looking at another record-breaking year, with 90 calls having been fielded so far this year — close to the average for an entire year.The idea has been bantered around, and I do feel the current model is not sustainable.”

Now that has created a firestorm. What would happen if any search and rescue organization start to charge fees to those they rescue?

Would that harm the reputation of any SAR?

John Blown from North Shore Search and Rescue took to their website to clarify their position. Something that was endorse by Chilliwack SAR.

I phoned Mike Danks, our Team Leader, and asked Mike what the hell was going on.

Is our position now that we are looking to get paid? Are we looking to have a different funding model? Shouldn’t we discuss this first? Aren’t other SAR teams going to be pissed at us for going totally rogue? Isn’t BCSARA discussing funding models with the government? People are pissed!

So Mike told me to chill out and explained, as expected, our official position is slightly different than what has been portrayed. Since I am a NSR team member and I was confused it’s highly likely everyone else is as well.

So this is what our position is –
1. NSR is NOT looking to be paid. We are NOT promoting full time paid search and rescue. We are NOT looking to be a paid rescue group.

2. NSR can and is coping with our current call volume. We are dealing with this strategically using our resources wisely.

3. Everyone on our team is doing just fine. It’s our wives/husbands/partners/employers who may be getting pissed with us.

4. NSR wants to work with BCSARA and with the various levels of government to discuss long term funding solutions for ALL BC SAR teams.

5. NSR does not support charging for rescue under ANY circumstances.

6. Currently NSR’s funding is adequate – the support we receive from the community is amazing.

7. IF call volumes continue to increase – will NSR be able to cope with our current infrastructure, and funding model? Probably not – we are (as are all teams) 100% volunteer run – so as we start toapproach 140+ calls/year, it’s going to be tough to keep up with all the demands of running a charitable organization, training, maintenance and rescues. We will have volunteer burn-out.

8. Are we open to discussing all different opportunities and options? Yes. If someone says – in the future would a model similar to volunteer fire work for NSR – we won’t say definitely no. We will say – maybe – let explore it. However, we are not initiating these conversations and we are simply open to having discussions to explore all options.

9. If any of these discussions are to be had – first we need to discuss these as a team and solicit feedback from our team members. Then we need to discuss it with BCSARA, and then a discussion with the appropriate government personnel would happen. This would be an extensive and collaborative process.

As well, everyone on NSR volunteers in large part because it is volunteer. SAR is an opportunity for us to do something intrinsically rewarding that provides a service to the community.

10. NSR continues to believe that the first priority should always be education and prevention. With BC Adventure Smart being funded for the next two years – this is an EXCELLENT start. We are HUGE supporters of Adventure Smart BC. For every dollar spent on prevention we probably save $100 on rescues (this is just my thought, please don’t quote me). If BC spends more on outdoor education and prevention including AdvertureSmart and BC Parks – we should see a corresponding drop in rescues – or at least slow the increase.

So we definitely appreciate all the media attention. And we definitely appreciate that this is top of mind for people. The funding discussion comes up every year and we will always be willing and open to continuing the discussion. Our representatives from each level of government have been very supportive to NSR. We receive a massive amount of assistance from our government representatives including municipal, provincial and federal representatives. Everyone is aligned – it is just matter of figuring out a solution that works for all.

Finally – NSR is in the news a lot – and quite often people believe we speak for all SAR in BC. This is not the case. We DO TRY to represent BC SAR as best we can but we do speak from our own perspective and our needs on the North Shore.

For matters affecting all SAR groups we work with BCSARA – the group that represents all 84 SAR groups in BC. We value our relationship with BCSARA as well as our relationships with other SAR groups in BC.  We are continually striving to improve those relationships, and sometimes miscommunications like this threaten to derail them.

We believe education is the key to keeping call volumes manageable.

Chilliwack SAR responded on Twitter

Chilliwack SAR Retweeted North Shore Rescue

Clarity achieved. Well done NSR!

Chilliwack SAR added,

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