The Burns Lake Search and Rescue (BLSAR) recently bought a building to finally be able to store all their belongings at one central location.
“Currently all of BLSAR’s belongings are scattered amongst team members so we have the boat at one address, we have the pickup at another address, we have got the drone at yet another address, so the main purpose of the building is to be giving us a home to store all of our stuff,” said Nicole Gerow, the current sitting president for BLSAR.
The shop, which will be a 40 by 80 feet space, will fit all the group’s belongings including their boat, their truck, and other gear like radios and drone.
“Some of our funding is coming from the allocation from the BC government. This probably would have been several more years in the making if we had to fundraise for all of it,” said Gerow adding that apart from the BC government, some of the funding also comes from BC gaming as well donors like the Chris Markoff Memorial Fund, Burns Lake and District Community Foundation Society and Pacific Northern Gas.
Three years back, the BLSAR bought a parcel of land on Brown Rd. in the hopes of turning it into a dedicated space for the group’s training and storage purposes. This land is where the shop will be coming up.
“We have got a pad leveled off and cleared off with some gravel where we want to put stuff; we are hoping that come the end of fall, we will have it put together so we can put all our stuff in there before winter and then next year we will look at possibly putting power in and finishing putting a concrete floor,” said Gerow adding that the goal of having this space is not only to make it easier for members to have everything in one place, but also to use the rest of the space as a training ground.
Currently, BLSAR which is partially funded through Emergency Management BC, has 34 volunteers. The volunteers get paid for meals when they are out on a task or get paid for mileage if they have to use their own vehicle but apart from that, the entire work, training is completely voluntary.
“To get called out on a task, we need to be called by a tasking agency like the conservation officers, BC ambulance; the RCMP, the coroners and park rangers are also able to call us if need be. But the RCMP are the ones that we have the closest and most common working relationship with,” said Gerow.
This year, so far the group has received two task calls, both of which wrapped up within a couple of hours. There also have been a few times when the group was called up by the RCMP for a task but before the members could leave, the RCMP had managed to locate the missing persons and the group was asked to stand down.
“A busy year for us is seven calls in a year. A lot of people around here tend to do self rescue or their families go out and find them and stuff like that. We just like to joke that we are really good at training people not to get lost,” said Gerow adding that still, having a dedicated space for all their belongings, would just make it faster and easier for the volunteers to respond to such calls.
The building for the storage was delivered in parts on a truck and came all the way from Ontario. The group is now accepting bids for setting up the building.
“We are really excited for this big step forward and getting a place to call our own,” she said.