American Friends to the rescue 

Whistler Search and Rescue receive dedicated vehicle

For the first time in its 35-year history Whistler Search and Rescue have their own dedicated rescue vehicle, thanks to a donation from members of the American Friends of Whistler.

“We’ve recognized for some time the value of having our own dedicated vehicle,” said Dave Cathers, President of Whistler Search and Rescue Society, “but the cost was a significant obstacle. It was suggested that we approach the American Friends of Whistler about receiving a grant. We submitted a proposal to them last summer and in November received the great news that they’d approved it.”

“Our board members were clearly impressed with WSAR’s need for a vehicle and the opportunity for us to make a difference,” said Rod Rohda, President of American Friends of Whistler. “In fact, a number of our board members decided to increase their annual contribution so that we’d be able to have enough for the full outfitted truck.”

This dedicated 4x4 crew-cab truck and custom-built Spacekap rescue vehicle will be fully equipped with everything the teams need for any situation that may arise during the course of each search and rescue. The vehicle can also serve as a forward command post and communications relay during searches and rescues. The crew-cab provides space for six team members and the Spacekap allows rescued subjects to be safely transported, by stretcher if needed, in an enclosed vehicle. Prior to receiving this vehicle, Whistler Search and Rescue teams relied on their members’ vehicles and had to load equipment each time they received a call out. This new vehicle will be ready to go with all equipment on board 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 12 months of the year, ensuring an efficient response to each call and the safe recovery of the subject(s).

Whistler Search and Rescue Society is a volunteer organization, established in 1972, that assists the RCMP and other agencies in a variety of search and rescue functions, including civil emergencies, and promotes public education in mountain and wilderness safety. Funding for WSAR is by donation and annual fundraising events. Of WSAR’s 25 volunteer members, 18 are on call 24 hours-a-day. In a typical year WSAR responds to 20 calls, many that last for extended times in hazardous conditions. Most recently, members of the WSAR team assisted the Blackcomb Ski Patrol and the North Shore Search and Rescue team in their rescue of a victim who had fallen on Mt. Seymour. WSAR volunteers meet every Tuesday for scheduled training exercises.

American Friends of Whistler are a group of Americans who spend time in Whistler and who founded a non-profit organization in July, 2002. This group’s mission is to enhance the community by raising and distributing funds for health and human services, culture and the arts, end environmental protection, primarily in Whistler. To date they have granted almost $300,000 to Whistler community organizations.

The grant for WSAR’s vehicle is AFOW’s largest to date. Last year they granted funds to the Whistler Health Care Clinic for the purchase of a bedside ultrasound unit. Other donations have been to Whistler Community Services food bank and counseling services, Millennium Place, Whistler arts and culture legacy funds, the Public Library, Get Bear Smart Society and the Fisheries Stewardship Group.   More information is available at www.afow.com .

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