Castlegar Search and Rescue is going to be able to purchase more equipment and increase training opportunities thanks to a BC Community Gaming Grant.
The group plans to use a large portion ($67,000) of the $100,000 grant to to purchase new equipment including communications radios equipped with GPS and tablets for search managers for out in the field, plus a cell booster and satellite dish for the command centre.
CSAR treasurer Ross Bates says these tools are really important for effective search management.
They will also do some needed electronic upgrades to the CSAR command vehicle and convert a quad-ATV into a quad-track vehicle.
Ross says the quad-track will be especially useful during the shoulder season when rescues may take the team through varied terrain where there may be snow and non-snow conditions. It will be able to tow a rescue toboggan.
They also plan to purchase a “snow ambulance” which is basically a fibreglass shell mounted on skis with suspension used to transport patients.
Ross says the contraption will improve rescues for hypothermia patients as it is best that they not be jostled around during transport.
The remaining funds will be used to pay for training. CSAR spends about $80,000 per year training its members.
This is the third year in a row that CSAR has successfully applied for gaming grants. Last year, they received $100,000 to purchase a new rescue vehicle.
CSAR currently has about 34 members, with 16 of those being new recruits that are just finishing their initial training. Last year CSAR members logged about 6,600 volunteer hours. They are called out on 25-30 tasks per year.
Ross puts in hundreds of hours each year himself. “It is very satisfying, especially after a successful task. The time you put in is all worthwhile,” he says.
Meanwhile CSAR is still working on building a new storage facility to centralize all of its equipment at CSAR headquarters in Blueberry. Enough funding has been secured to begin construction, but more funding or in-kind support is needed to complete the project as planned.
CSAR receives about half of its annual funding from government sources with the remainder coming from donations from the public and organizations.
If you wold like to make a direct donation for CSAR, go to the group’s Facebook page or send a cheque marked for Castlegar Search and Rescue to the Castlegar RCMP attachment.