For the first time in nearly 20 years, teams from across northern British Columbia met together to train and network at the BCSARA sponsored Conference titled: “Northeast meets Northwest: SAR beyond Hope: from May 2-4, 2014. Organized by two BCSARA directors from Cariboo-Chilcotin, Trent Blair, and Bulkley-Nechako, Chris Mushumanski, it was very well received. Did you know, the 24 SAR teams in the north provide SAR coverage for 73% of BC’s land mass?
In total, 80 SAR volunteers spent the weekend in a variety of presentations and workshops aimed at improving SAR delivery in the North. From as far away as Stewart, Fort St. John, Prince Rupert, 100 Mile House and McBride and many points in between, 17 SAR teams from the 4 northern BCSARA regions traveled a total of 13 700 kms to meet in Prince George. Presenters came from many of the teams present, with topics such as ways to use convergent volunteers more effectively, effective ways to teach GSAR, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)awareness presentations, ways to engage new SAR volunteers, iPads as a GPS and mapping platform, creative funding solutions for SAR teams in the north, and various options for mobile command centres. As well, provincial SAR Specialist, Ian Cunnings, and BCSARA directors at large, Jim McAllister and Neil Brewer, all came to present on various topics such as the provincial Swiftwater NIF grant, the BCSARA proposed Alternate Funding Model , the SAR Safety matrix NIF project, and other topics of interest for the BCSAR program
Other agencies that joined us included the RCMP, PEPAir/CASARA, and the Prince George Amateur Radio Club. During the weekend, 4 SAR teams were recognized by the RCMP for their outstanding service. And when asked, the combined number of years as SAR volunteers in room topped out at 993. Outstanding!
A big thank you to the organizing committee of Trent Blair, Chris Mushumanski, Dave Merritt and Jeff Smedley, to the BCSARA Northeast and Northwest directors, Mike Stekelenburg and Greg Taylor for sponsoring each lunch, Streamline Signs in Vanderhoof for making up the conference T-shirts, and to Prince George Search and Rescue for sponsoring the dinner on Saturday night and funding the costs of the conference room. Door prizes were possible due to the very generous donations by Jeff Smedley, MLAs Shirley Bond and Mike Morris, Earthenware Vanderhoof, Streamline Signs Vanderhoof, IRL Supplies Prince George, The Wild Life Prince George, Prince George Search and Rescue, Carhartt, Helly Hansen, The Northface and MSR.
Here’s to the next one!
Bulkley-Nechako Regional Director