With the increasing level of tourist and other activities in the Clayoquot and Barkely Sound Regions, Search and Rescue services are becoming more and more important. The communities of the Clayoquot Sound Region are in an area of high risk for natural hazards (particularly earthquakes and tsunamis) and SAR teams that are well trained and adequately equipped can provide an invaluable resource during disaster response. The road connections to the coast are of particular concern. Following an earthquake these would likely be made impassable for a substantial period of time and coastal communities would be required to provide their own response capability.
In 1999 the Westcoast Inland Search and Rescue Society (WISAR) was formed in order to provide a local capacity for SAR response. WISAR is composed of a group of dedicated volunteers who provide local search and rescue capability for the Clayoquot Region. We depend on donations and other fund raising activities to support our operations.
Search and Rescue groups in British Columbia fall under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) which has rigorous requirements for training and certification. At present the team has seven certified Search Managers, seven certified Team Leaders and eighteen GSAR team members.
WISAR activities are supported in a number of different ways:
- Funding for major equipment purchases has largely come from New Initiative Funds and Direct Access grants;
- Funding for special (expensive) training for such things as swift water operations and rescue and Incident Command System has come from NIF and Direct Access;
- Routine training for GSAR, rope rescue and tracking has been provided by volunteers in WISAR and other SAR groups;
- Operating costs have been funded by donations and grants from local government and local individuals and businesses.