by Lorraine Payette, written March 5, 2014
(Leeds-Grenville) When most of us think of Ground Search and Rescue, we imagine well trained and organized professionals in uniforms heading out into remote areas with dogs, boats, ATVS and other specialized equipment as they search calmly and efficiently for missing people. We automatically expect them to be highly paid professionals, provided by our taxpayer dollars.
However, these groups of dedicated helpers are made up of volunteers in Ontario.
“Thousand Islands Ground Search and Rescue (TIGSAR) is a not-for-profit organization and registered charitable organization,” says Kevin Gill, Team Leader. “The SAR team operates under the Ontario Search and Rescue Volunteer Association (OSARVA), which is the governing body for volunteer search and rescue teams within the province of Ontario.”
As volunteers, they are funded by donations from the public and various organizations. Over the year they participate in and are recipients of different fund raising efforts. These can include Pet Wellness Fairs, Small Business Showcases, dog shows, local festivals and celebrations, as well as assorted raffles, dinners, and demonstrations. Organizations such as Ultimate Air Dogs Canada have also donated to help keep them afloat. With the money and equipment they raise, they provide search and rescue expertise throughout the Thousand Islands area, as well as raising awareness and training through Hug-A-Tree and other valuable presentations to school children, visits to residential facilities for seniors, and other services.
“All team members train and provide personnel who can assist the Police in their efforts to find lost, missing or injured person(s) and bring them to safety,” says Catherine Gill, team leader and training co-ordinator. The team is also training as a Community Emergency Response Team in order assist the authorities in the event of a natural disaster.”
Far more is needed to provide teams such as this to local communities. They also need equipment to perform their duties, a trailer to haul it from place to place (whether for deployment or demonstrations), and above all else, proper insurance.
“Insurance is an essential component of our operational needs,” explains Gill. “It is not as visible a piece of equipment, such as the donation of uniform pants from Leeds and Grenville EMS or the necessary equipment the team needs to work with, but it is just as important to the team’s operational readiness.”
Monthly SAR training exercises are required for team members, and those working with K9 require even more time to learn and practice. They also need special CERT training and have made time in their busy personal schedules to participate in the various fund raising events.
“Sherri and Richard Dufton, two of our team members have participated worked hard at (many) of the events we have had …, organizing displays, setting up, manning the tent as well as tear down and hauling back to base,” says Gill. “These are just two examples of the dedicated personnel that TIGSAR is proud to have as part of the team. Everyone one pitches in to do all that they can and make it out to as many training exercises and events as they can.”
This year they have come upon a wonderful opportunity. Intuit QuickBooks is sponsoring a contest to help support small businesses in Canada, with the prize being $1,000 to help grow their business. This money would be a huge asset to a forward thinking, dedicated team such as TIGSAR.
If you would like to help, please go to https://sblb.intuit.com/on/businessname/7182/ca and click on “vote for us”. You may vote once a day, every day, until the end of the competition. It’s amazing what such a simple action can do. Remember, “the life you save could be your own.”