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6 B.C. search and rescue leaders pen finger-pointing letter to provincial government


Army.ca Dinosaur
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Trouble 't mill...

6 B.C. search and rescue leaders pen finger-pointing letter to provincial government​

A letter to Premier David Eby from the former head of the B.C. Search and Rescue Association accuses the government ministry overseeing search and rescue of a lack of respect for volunteers, bordering on abuse. Kristen Robinson reports.

Several current and former leaders of B.C. search and rescue (SAR) groups have penned a letter to top provincial government officials, alleging mistreatment of their volunteers by staff in one department.

The letter addressed to Premier David Eby, but sent to MLAs and members of the official Opposition as well, points fingers at Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR).

In addition to claiming that the ministry houses a “systemic attitude of disrespect and institutionalized bullying” of search and rescue volunteers, it alleges its staff have not addressed substantial safety concerns raised in an audit of certain SAR groups.

It further claims the department is not embracing the most advanced SAR technology, and calls on the government to restore its relationship with the SAR signatories by giving them more standard-setting authorities.

The signatories — including the former CEO of the B.C. Search and Rescue Association and the current presidents of the Houston, Whistler and Fort St. James SAR teams — also want an independent audit of EMCR conduct and practices, and recommends certain unnamed staff in the ministry be reassigned.
Environment Minister George Heyman, who is also acting as minister of EMCR, was not available for an interview Monday.

“Search and rescue volunteers play a critical role in providing life-saving services across our entire province. We respect and appreciate their training, knowledge and dedication,” Heyman said in an emailed statement.

“The concerns raised in this letter are very troubling, and I intend to meet with the BC Search and Rescue Association this month to discuss and address these concerns.”

Heyman said he is confident the provincial government can reestablish “the trust and effective collaborative relationships that British Columbians need and expect” from its elected officials and SAR volunteers.

Some 3,400 volunteers from 78 SAR groups across the province save 1,000 lives on average each year.

In an interview, former B.C. Search and Rescue Association president Dwight Yochim said the “rift” has developed in the past six months in particular, as volunteers faced tremendous “pressure” from EMCR.

“They were not seen with any respect by EMCR. Their advice, their recommendations were seen as more of an irritant,” he alleged. “They just didn’t think those members’ opinions really counted and it was very discouraging.”

He cited the example of North Shore Rescue — which is not a signatory to the letter — having to go public with its concerns before it was allowed to do nighttime hoist rescues from helicopters in October 2022.

Any idea on what the real story is here, D&B?

AFAIK it's kind of like they typical RegF vs. ARes relationship ;)

New legislation gives EMCR alot of legislative powers they've never had before over dozens of passionate and highly regarded, volunteer based, community organizations across BC, and they're both struggling to figure it out. It seems to be some pretty basic change management toe stubbing, viz:

Government extends deadline for search and rescue crews after questions​

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue is among the Vancouver Island volunteer organizations with unanswered questions about some new legislation but it now has more time to get answers after bringing their story to CHEK.

B.C.’s new Emergency and Disaster Management Act became law earlier this month and it changes the relationship between the province and SAR organizations.

The act contains a small section pertaining to search and rescue groups that’s left them with numerous questions surrounding such issues as liability, increased paperwork and recruitment management.

Search and Rescue units were initially given until Dec. 1 to sign and continue operating.

“That leaves us really between a rock and a hard place,” said Ken Neden, a search manager with Arrowsmith Search & Rescue. “It’s open to wild interpretation. Legislation isn’t our strong point and we didn’t want to spend the money to get a lawyer and we were told that November 27th our questions would be answered which only partially happened unfortunately.”

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue is not alone. The BC Search And Rescue Association says numerous groups have similar outstanding questions and concerns since receiving documents related to the changes.

“The fact that it arrived cold I think is what caused a lot of distress for a lot of members,” said Dwight Yoachim, CEO of the BC Search and Rescue Association. “I wish they had approached us to consult with us and be collaborative with us. We probably would’ve provided them with a different approach.

Neden said Arrowsmith won’t sign unless they’re certain what it all means. After CHEK News made inquiries the ministry responded late in the day saying it would extend the deadline to Dec. 15 and would provide more information and answers to questions.

The ministry also says by becoming an authorized Public Safety Provider, Ground Search and Rescue groups will be covered by liability insurance.

Dwight Yoachim. Thats the best handle I have read in a long while......at any rate. Volunteer groups have a tough enough time training sufficiently and deploying enough people and deploy long enough to finiish the search task, let alone do staff work. Sounds like the BC government doesn't quite get that part.
Hmm...I wonder what paramedic organizations did when faced with this sort of problem? 🤔

Well, in BC, (in that time frame of 1974 to 1980) the "paramedic organizations" (commercial and municipal operators, some functioning from funeral homes, others partially subsidized by municipalities, some based with volunteer fire departments and others existing on paid subscriptions from the public - but all charging for their services) were mostly amalgamated into the province wide BC Ambulance Service. Though some ambulances were operated by volunteers, especially one-offs located in remote communities, most were either local government associated organizations or were for profit ventures. It was a different dynamic than that faced by the purely volunteer SAR organizations.
So none of the BC paramedic services pre-1980 had a collective agreement to protect them from provincial interference?
Hmm...I wonder what paramedic organizations did when faced with this sort of problem? 🤔

ROFL emoji.

If you've seen one paramedic organization, you've seen one paramedic organization.

Only one I saw has Heavy Urban HUSAR CANADA-Task Force 3.