If you happen to take a wrong turn while skiing this winter and end up on the wrong side of the mountain or perhaps make a misstep while hiking and end up injured and unable to walk out, then you should be thankful for that last lottery ticket you purchased, even if it didn’t win.
Emergency Management B.C., a division of the Ministry of Justice, recently announced over $4 million in funding for search and rescue, firefighting, and other emergency related organizations in the province, with the money to cover the funding coming from provincial gaming grants.
Two local Search and Rescue (SAR) groups; the South Columbia SAR Society (SCSAR) and the Rossland and District SAR Society (RDSAR), have received $63,000 and $84,500 respectively to continue their work in keeping this particular slice of the Southern Interior safer for those who venture off the beaten track and need assistance.
“When we make gaming grant applications we have to be specific about where they money will go,” said RDSAR Director, Graham Jones.
“We’ve been, to a large degree, a winter response group, with downhill and back-country skiers running into trouble… snowmobilers. But we’ve never had snowmobiles in our arsenal, we’ve had to use private member’s machines and they’re not designed for towing search members up a mountain.
“This year we applied for funding for a snowmobile and trailer and were surprised that we got it. You don’t usually get the amount you request.”
Although applications can be made for extraordinary purchases, the majority of the funding that groups apply for goes towards covering the core operations of SAR groups.
“We don’t have other money coming in for equipment and training,”said Ron Medland, search manager for SCSAR.
“This is part of an annual opportunity to apply for funding from gaming. They go through them and decide who gets what. We did get what we asked for this year.”
Medland explained that the money the group received will go to basic operating costs for the team such as insurance for vehicles, equipment purchases, and training for team members.
“We have to meet standards and part of that is we have to be up to date on training,” he said. “This funding is huge, we wouldn’t be able to do the work without it.”
In addition to the grants the local emergency management groups received for core funding for their operations, the Canadian Avalanche Centre and the B.C. Search and Rescue Association each received $250,000 in gaming funds to support their operations.
“The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) and B.C. Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA), along with their membership, do tremendous work educating people about safe practices when heading into the winter backcountry – work that saves lives,” Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Susan Anton, said in a press release.
The local SAR groups say the funding to the provincial organizations is vital to their ability to perform effectively.
“The $250,000 going to the provincial SAR comes to us indirectly,” said Medland. “The money the BCSARA gets mostly goes to training, much of it specific for skiers, boarders, and search and rescue. It’s not just equipment but the knowledge to make an informed decision that can save your life.”