Naomi Yamamoto, minister of state for emergency preparedness in Canada, announced a one-year pilot project for the use of UAV’s by crews in Coquitlam and Kamloops for search rescue purposes. The programme has been endorsed by Emergency Management British Columbia (EMBC).
“We are always looking for new technologies and techniques that will improve our search capabilities or reduce risks for SAR responders,” said Tom Zajac, vice-president of Coquitlam Search and Rescue. “We are looking forward to being part of a joint effort to explore the potential of UAV technology to increase the capacity of SAR teams in British Columbia to operate safely and efficiently.”
Alan Hobler, Search and Rescue president for Kamloops, said: “We have been testing and training with these UAVs for a while now and are very excited to apply this technology to real searches. In some applications UAVs will be a more-effective means of searching terrain that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to search by traditional ground searchers. Searcher safety is paramount for us and now we have a new tool that we can use in places or circumstances that may pose a risk to our searchers.”
In 2016, the Province committed $10 million funding for SAR purposes. This funding is being distributed by the British Columbia Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) over a two-year period. BCSARA said that funding is allocated according to the needs of local search and rescue teams to replace or update equipment, provide administrative support and pay for new or additional training.
Yamamoto added: “Search and rescue volunteers demonstrate a steadfast commitment to the safety of families and communities throughout this province. I am proud to support these local heroes and this pilot project which could save so many lives.”