Search and rescue groups across British Columbia are being asked to register as authorized public safety providers (PSP) under the new Emergency and Disaster Management Act, enacted by the provincial government on Nov. 8.
The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue received an email on Nov. 17 about it and attended an information session with the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness on Nov. 27.
Under the new statute, organizations such as authorized Ground Search and Rescue groups are invited to put in an application to be registered as an official PSP for a period of three years.
At first, the ASAR, along with other similar groups in the across the province were given until Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 to comply but the ministry, manager Ken Neden said, extended the deadline until December 15.
Neden said this will now give them more time to gather information before they can consider the invitation to apply as a Public Safety Provider (PSP)
“If we don’t do that in a couple of days, we’re no longer an active search and rescue group,” said Neden. “We won’t be called. We will be calling Nanaimo or some other groups in Nanaimo do the job in the area.”
Neden said during the meeting search and rescue groups raised some questions but not all were unanswered and the session was cut short.
“A lot came out in extremely short notice,” said Neden. “And basically it came across like a gun to the head or you are not a search group anymore. We have been on the phone today trying to get more information, trying to get hold of MLAs.”
By signing the EMCR invitation, the ASAR will be required to meet the requirements of the EDMA that include meeting the ministry’s criteria for GSAR safety program guide, operating guidelines, training standards, and all policies and related documents.
The new EDMA replaced the Emergency Program Act. It will implement a more proactive approach to emergency management – with an emphasis on disaster risk reduction – to safeguard people and communities. It aims to improve how the province manage emergencies like pandemics, floods, and wildfires. It also addresses the impact these events have on people and communities.