We would like to comment on the editorial last week regarding the possibility of penalties for certain types of search and rescue call outs.
We wanted to be clear that these were the views of The Free Press editorial team and are not consistent with those of Fernie Search and Rescue or Emergency Management BC.
Fernie SAR is comprised of volunteers drawn from the community able and willing to assist those in peril in wilderness areas where the traditional emergency services are not equipped to respond. Fernie SAR always operates under the authority of one of those emergency services, most typically the RCMP or BCAS. The province covers our operating costs while out on rescues.
Our members train, unpaid, to become skilled responders in many areas including swiftwater rescue, avalanche rescue, helicopter rescue, rope rescue, wilderness first aid etc.
While we believe that the individual must accept responsibility for his or her actions, no-one should ever be made to feel they should either not call, or should delay a call to 911 for fear of financial charges or negative press coverage.
Every delayed minute that passes may contribute to a less favorable outcome for injured subjects; we don’t want lost people hiding from us; and we prefer early notice of a pending search or rescue rather than waiting (typically until it is dark) to be alerted. Indeed people hiding or delaying an emergency call significantly increases the risk to rescuers.
We would therefore like to be clear that our services will not be charged for and we would not like them to be, we do not judge on whether any particular emergency is caused by poor judgment rather than bad luck and the identity of any people we assist will not be released to the press by us.
There will always be cases where the subject does something completely and obviously irresponsible, necessitating a rescue effort. These cases are relatively rare, especially in the case of Fernie SAR, and I think we can all accept to having made mistakes at some time or other.
Simon Piney, Scott Robinson, Kat Robinson
Fernie Search and Rescue