North

Canadian North donates flights to Norman Wells search and rescue

With no search and rescue unit in the Sahtu region, it can take a long time to get help when someone needs it, says Jaime Kearsey, Norman Wells search and rescue president.

'It's a lot of stress trying to come up with different ways to get funding,' says search and rescue president

A Canadian North airplane in Norman Wells, N.W.T. Canadian North is donating free flight tickets for two trainers to get to the community for search and rescue training. (Sid Barber)

Canadian North is flying two trainers up to Norman Wells, N.W.T., for free in an effort to help establish the community's search and rescue team.

Jaime Kearsey, president of the Norman Wells Search and Rescue, said she cried when she found out the company wouldn't be charging them for the flights.

Jaime Kearsey is the president of the Norman Wells search and rescue unit. (Natasha Lunt)

"This will enable [us] to save that money and buy equipment that we need," said Kearsey. She said it will save the unit about $7,000. 

It's been a long struggle to get a search and rescue up and running in Norman Wells; Kearsey said the community has been trying to get it going for four years, and she has been the president for over a year.

Now they're finally getting close to having trained search and rescue volunteers.

That could be someone's life that we're not saving because of timing. It takes a while for people to get here.- Jaime  Kearsey , president of the Norman Wells Search and Rescue

The trainers are with Arctic Response Canada Ltd., which will be providing big river rescue and wilderness first aid rescue. The trainers will be in the community for the two weekends starting July 27 and Aug. 4.

The Norman Wells' unit is made up of entirely volunteers, including Kearsey. She said nine people will be getting training over the next two weekends. The volunteers will also get emergency medical technician training.

A photo of the life jackets on their way to be shipped to Norman Wells. Canadian North shipped them for free. (Laval St. Germain/Facebook)

Kearsey said establishing a search and rescue unit in her community is important because they have had to look to Inuvik, Yellowknife, and Hay River to get assistance in the past. That's because there isn't a unit in the Sahtu region.

"That could be someone's life that we're not saving because of timing. It takes a while for people to get here."

Kearsey also said the money comes at a good time, after a search and rescue effort last week cost the unit about $10,000.

"For [Canadian North] to do this it's really big for us."

Canadian North flew in life jackets for the search and rescue unit in Norman Wells for free. (Jaime Kearsey/Facebook)

Canadian North has also been shipping equipment for the search and rescue for free. It flew in 125 donated life jackets to the search and rescue unit.

Finding funding 'a lot of stress'

Kearsey said the search and rescue has had to to its own fundraising because it is not funded by the government. With the free flights and shipping, that's one more thing Kearsey doesn't have to fundraise for.

"It's a lot of stress trying to come up with different ways to get funding for us," said Kearsey. "It takes up a lot of time and effort on myself and my team's part."

Kearsey said the search and rescue unit should be ready to go just after Christmas.

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