SAR-NIF Project Update November 2016

NSS CircleWith funding from the Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund (NIF), and in cooperation with Emergency Management British Columbia (EMBC) through the Search and Rescue Joint Health and Safety Committee and the Swiftwater Task Force, BCSARA provided equipment and training to assist Swiftwater Team members meet the new Swiftwater Rescue standards adopted in B.C.

The project was approved in March 2014, originally with a 2 year term it was extended to 3 years to allow additional time for Swiftwater Team members to access training courses. With a budget of $591,204 plus $131,250 in-kind for a total of $722,424 the following activities were completed:

Provincial Workshop: In October 2014 a workshop was held in Chilliwack with representatives from 33 Swiftwater Rescue Teams, agencies, and the BCSARA Board. The input received during the workshop resulted in a number of further revisions prior to the standards being distributed further for final review.

team-member-leaping-into-water-to-save-other-member Equipment replacement: Teams submitted lists of Swiftwater Rescue equipment which required replacing/upgrading; the following is a recap of purchases and funding:

  • Number of Swiftwater Teams receiving funding for equipment: 44
  • Number of Helmets replaced: 54
  • Number of rescue PFDs replaced: 188
  • Number of cutting devices (backup now required): 269
  • Other Swiftwater rescue gear (Personal Protective Equipment related): 670
  • NIF contribution for equipment replacement: $147,317.04 (includes $21,000 of
    additional funds approved in February 2015)

Rescue Team Leader course: Based on Input received during the provincial workshop and in further discussion the existing Public Service Lifeline Leadership course provided by the Justice Institute of BC (JIBC) was chosen as the basis. JIBC personnel in consultation with Subject Matter Experts developed additional Rescue Team Leader materials to supplement the course. Courses are now being offered to the SAR Volunteers through funding from BCSARA.

group-putting-on-drysuitsSwiftwater Awareness Training: The new standard requires all GSAR Volunteers to be trained at a minimum of the awareness level. As EMBC already offers free access to GSAR Volunteers and other first responders to an on-line Swiftwater/Flood Awareness course funds were used to add information on the new standards to the front-end of the course and update the course.

Operations and Technician Training: The training portion of the project ran from April 2015 through September 2016. The following is a recap of participation and funding:

  • Number of Swiftwater Team members trained: 471
  • Number of hours contributed by Team Members in travel and courses: 6,021
  • Value of Volunteers contribution at SAR-NIF rate of $25 per hour: $150,525
  • Funding from SAR-NIF for course costs:$245,091
  • Funding from SAR-NIF for travel, meals, and accommodation for participants: $27,982

Rope system testing in the Swiftwater environment: With approval from the NSS at the end of fiscal 2016 Basecamp Innovations Ltd was contracted to conduct testing on ropes and rope systems utilized in Swiftwater Rescue. The final report from the testing is being completed.

team-member-in-holeRapid Survival System: With recent approval from NSS BCSARA is providing $24,000 to North Water to allow Rapid Survival System (RSS) units to be made available to Swiftwater Rescue Teams to try this new additional floatation device. More information will be provided in the following months.

Summary: The Implementation of New Swiftwater Standards project provided a critical impetus to complete the revised standard, and to allow full implementation across the 44 of the 80 GSAR Groups with Swiftwater Rescue Teams. The Swift Water task force will be meeting this fall to review all actions taken as response to the Coroner’s Inquest recommendations.

For more information on the Swiftwater NIF Project contact

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