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.