B.C. search and rescue model not sustainable, official warns
Volunteer crews can't handle load, says Tim Jones of North Shore Rescue
The province needs a new model for search and rescue because the current volunteer system is not sustainable, a prominent B.C. search leader warns.
Tim Jones, a North Shore Rescue team leader with more than 30 years experience, says it's his job to speak out on behalf of fellow veteran SAR members.
"There has to be a re-model for volunteer search and rescue in the province," said Jones. "They can't sustain the volume they're facing right now."
In Squamish, where a hiker fell to her death last week, it has been the busiest year ever with 23 calls in July alone.
North Shore Rescue gets a stipend for the nightly sweeps they do on the Grouse Grind hiking trail, and local firefighters handle emergency calls from the mountain during the summer.
But many search teams in the province don't get that kind of support, Jones warned.
"In any post mortem of any incident it was always communications that was at fault. We're not set up properly for communications in this province," said Jones.
Jones has proposed a triad solution:
- Hasty Team Standby Pay for high volume SAR teams to maintain a 24/7 response capability
- Dedicated light intermediate helicopters for SAR work in B.C., instead of relying on standby private operators
- A provincial communications system that mirrors the Forestry Service instead of the current patch work model
Jones admits it would take a lot of money to put his vision into practice, but says it's worth it.
He is hoping his proposal will spark a dialogue with the government.
With files from the CBC's Calyn Shaw