South Columbia Search and Rescue (SC SAR) has turned an old Fruitvale hall into a modern hub that is already making a marked improvement in the team’s response time.
“That’s the big one,” says SC SAR President Mike Hudson. “And it was the selling point in our business case … we have already seen improvement, the response time is so much faster because everyone can go to the hall and grab equipment and go,” he added.
“We are in and out in no time, whereas before, we were trying to figure out who had what.”
After six years in the making, the team invites the community to have a look at the new Main Street digs during a grand opening on Saturday beginning at 3 p.m.
“We would like to have all of you come out, see us, and have an opportunity to see what we have been doing,” Hudson said. “And to thank all those that have supported us over the last two years of construction.”
The $210,000 project, located at 2000 Main Street, houses all of SAR’s equipment and vehicles, serves as a training centre, and when applicable, will provide a sound command base.
“Sometimes our response times were slow due to the fact we had to go all over the place, including Trail, Warfield, Montrose and Fruitvale, to get equipment before we could get started,” Hudson emphasized. “Now it’s all centralized, which is great.”
The new facility is already in use, however, the official ribbon cutting and plaque presentations were planned to run parallel with this weekend’s Beaver Valley May Days.
The Beaver Valley Girl Guides will be on hand to serve refreshments by donation, and visitors will be welcome to tour the building and see first hand, services the dedicated volunteers provide to the area.
“If you so wish you can see the journey of the construction process and pictures of what we do,” Hudson said.
Demonstrations and presentations will be set up by the swift water, winter response and medical teams as well as the rope rescue crew.
“All our specialty teams will be there so you will see the equipment we use and you’ll get to see some of the techniques we use,” he noted. “And we will be holding a recognition ceremony for all of our supporters, funding partners and more.”
In addition to local dollars, the new building came to fruition with help from the province.
“The project has been a huge undertaking and we could not have done it without businesses in our community, local grant providers, fundraising and donation efforts,” said Hudson. “In no small part, the British Columbia government awarded BC Search and Rescue a $10 million grant last year, and our portion of this grant has gone into getting this building completed.”
The primary role of search and rescue is to find and assist people who become lost or injured, and to support local authorities during natural disasters or mass casualty incidents. The professional group of volunteers collaborate with the RCMP, BC Ambulance Service and BC Coroners Service to provide emergency services.
South Columbia’s service zone encompasses the municipalities of Trail, Montrose, Fruitvale and Salmo as well as the area west of the Columbia River to the Kootenay Pass and north from the U.S. border to the Village of Ymir.
The team regularly assists neighbouring SAR groups including Nelson, Rossland, Castlegar and Nakusp, through mutual aid requests. Members provide specialized support such as wilderness first aid, avalanche response, tracking, rope and swift water rescue when called upon both locally and across the province.
South Columbia SAR is always actively recruiting new volunteers.
Anyone interested in joining the team is encouraged to visit the group’s website, scsar.ca.