Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has issued the following statement on Search and Rescue Volunteer Memorial Day:
“Today, we reflect on the sacrifice and dedication of British Columbia’s search and rescue volunteers – the thousands of hard-working specialists who help those injured or stranded in our province’s backcountry.
“B.C.’s search and rescue volunteers are among the best in the world, and I am so proud of the efforts they make to reduce the harm for those in dangerous situations. They deploy to rescue people in need at any time of year, in all conditions, at any hour of day or night. They spend countless hours training to the high standards set by the BC Search and Rescue Association, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue and Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) Air.
“With each deployment, these responders risk their own safety. Tragically, some of our best and brightest search and rescue volunteers have lost their lives in the line of duty in years past. To compound the challenges these volunteers face, the last 11 months have been the busiest in the history of B.C.’s search and rescue program.
“When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in early 2020, we were all challenged to adjust our approaches to daily life to stay safe and healthy. Many people responded by seeking out the beauty of B.C.’s trails and backcountry.
“This renewed enthusiasm to explore our wilderness has been heavily felt by B.C.’s 79 ground search and rescue groups and PEP Air teams. These groups normally deploy for approximately 1,700 ground search missions in a year. In the first 11 months of fiscal 2020-21, there were 1,985 incidents – more than any other year in the history of the program, with one month still to come.
“Today, I encourage all British Columbians to honour the memory of those who lost their lives trying to save the life of another and the incredible work these skilled responders do to keep us all safe. This can be done in many ways, including visiting the memorial at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria, by taking a moment to reflect on their sacrifice and that of their loved ones and by ensuring we are all as prepared as we can be before heading out into the elements.
“On this Search and Rescue Volunteer Memorial Day, I extend my deep gratitude to the thousands of selfless volunteers who put service above self and, in doing so, make British Columbia a safer place to live, work and play.”