News release

N.S. Ground Search and Rescue Wins National Funding

Volunteer ground search and rescue members in Nova Scotia will benefit from a three-year, $348,000 federal-funding package that will take search management into the digital era.

For the first time, all 24 local volunteer teams will be linked by satellite and remote laptops so they can more effectively plan and conduct multi-team searches, co-ordinate training and assist other jurisdictions in regional or national emergency responses.

"I would like to acknowledge the financial support of the government of Canada for this initiative through the Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund," Carolyn Bolivar-Getson, Minister of Emergency Management, said today, Feb. 26. "This project will bring our 24 local teams under one umbrella and help Nova Scotia set a North American model for search management. I am very pleased that the Emergency Management Office was able to assist in the project application."

Ms. Bolivar-Getson added that with in-kind contributions from the province, the total value of the project will be almost $500,000.

"Nova Scotians have every right to be proud of our ground search and rescue teams," said Ms. Bolivar-Getson. "They devote personal time and energy on our behalf, without compensation. I thank them, and their employers for supporting their crucial role in community safety."

"Search and rescue in Nova Scotia has long been a model of public sector and volunteer partnership," said Jean Murray, executive director of the National Search and Rescue Secretariat. "With this initiative, all operational teams in the province will have the same platform for managing and tracking search and rescue resources and operations.

"Our other partners, such as Parks Canada and the RCMP, have expressed a keen interest in this project, giving it national importance."

Walter Parnell, president of the Nova Scotia Ground Search and Rescue Association, said the package will be a huge boost for his teams.

"As search directors, we'll have a better handle on resources available and the specialized skills of our volunteers," said Mr. Parnell. "In the end, more effective search co-ordination can save someone's life."

Ground search and rescue volunteers in Nova Scotia have won international acclaim for efforts after the Swissair Flight 111 disaster, Hurricane Juan and other events.

Over the next two years, volunteers will be trained to use the new Search Management and Reports Tracking program. They will have real-time access to search data, training programs, inventory records for vehicles, telecommunications equipment and supplies and administrative records. Volunteers will also receive identification swipe cards, using bar-code technology, to help search managers maintain team information.

The National Search and Rescue Secretariat is an independent agency of government, reporting to the Minister of National Defence. The secretariat was established in 1986 to support and promote the activities of the National Search and Rescue program as a means to achieve highly effective and economically responsible search and rescue programs throughout Canada.

The Emergency Management Office of Nova Scotia is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of Nova Scotians by providing for a prompt and co-ordinated response to an emergency.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Ground search and rescue teams across Nova Scotia got good news today (February 26th).

The teams have received federal funding for a three-year technology project that will take search management into the digital era.

Emergency Management Minister Carolyn Bolivar-Getson presented a symbolic cheque for 348-thousand dollars.

The funding will pay for satellite technology, mobile laptop computers and computer programs to manage searches, training and personnel.

Ms. Bolivar-Getson says the province will make in-kind contributions to bring the total value of the search and rescue project to half-a-million dollars, which she says is a large contribution to public safety.

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Media Contacts:

Richard Perry
Emergency Management Office 902-424-0284 E-mail:
Elizabeth Katz
National Search and Rescue Secretariat 613-996-6411 E-Mail:
Walter Parnell
Nova Scotia Ground Search and Rescue Assoc. 902-742-0914