Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why do you volunteer?

SAR team members spend a lot of time training, and then spend their time in the middle of the night or in the snow and rain looking for people. Why do they do it? That’s a very good question. One reason is for the sense of community involvement, giving back to the community and for the sense of satisfaction at helping people. Another reason is for the camaraderie of training and working together with a team, and shooting for a professional level of performance in every task. Yet another reason is the indefinable need to test one’s limits in a wilderness setting. The same drive necessary to set a goal of climbing a mountain, shooting rapids or skiing, running or cycling long distances is what SAR members bring to looking for lost people.

Whatever reason our members have for volunteering, Coquitlam SAR is extremely glad they do it.

Are SAR volunteers & teams paid?

NO

All ground SAR teams in BC and all members of those teams are volunteers, with the exception of some teams in National Parks.

How do you pay for everything?

SAR teams are non-profit societies, and are funded through a variety of means. Some receive a basic budget from the city or region they are based in, and the rest of the operating costs are obtained through fundraising and donations. Costs incurred while performing a search or rescue operation are paid for by the Province of British Columbia.  More info on this can be found at the Emergency Management BC (EMBC) Web site.  If you’re interested in supporting Coquitlam Search and Rescue in any way, please contact us at info@coquitlam-sar.bc.ca.

If I get lost, do I have to pay for a rescue?

NO

The Government of British Columbia (the taxpayers of British Columbia) pays all costs associated with Search and Rescue. A person who is in a car accident can expect emergency services to come and rescue them, perform first aid and deliver them to a hospital whether or not that person was at fault. In Canada, that person can expect all of these services to be paid for mostly by the government, and their own taxes. The same holds true for Search and Rescue; it does not matter to SAR volunteers whether the subject is lost or injured through their own fault, or through some misadventure. We will search for you, find you and render any assistance you may need, including transportation to Emergency Medical Services. In fact, since all of the members of SAR teams are volunteers, the cost to the tax payers for Search and Rescue is extremely low. For instance, in 2004 the total cost to for all ground and inland water search and rescues was $1,1370,958 for 933 searches. Volunteers rescued just over 1000 people that year.  This includes lost hunters, children, elderly people with varying forms of dementia (Alzheimer’s), mushroom pickers, snowmobilers, climbers, skiers, and hikers. More info can be found on the EMBC web site

Can I call search and rescue to help me?

NO

Search and Rescue teams cannot and do not initiate searches, they only provide search and rescue to local authorities who are in charge of the search and decide when to start and when to stop.Ground search and rescue is managed by the RCMP or other local police agency. If you are lost or have a friend who is missing, call 911 or your local emergency number and the Police will handle the search.

Isn’t there just one SAR team?

NO

In British Columbia there are over 80 Search and Rescue groups all over the province, in various districts. In the southwest region of the province there are the following teams:

  • Ridge Meadows SAR
  • North Shore Rescue
  • Lions Bay SAR
  • Squamish Emergency Program
  • Pemberton SAR
  • Whistler SAR
  • Central Fraser Valley SAR
  • Hope SAR
  • Chilliwack SAR
  • Surrey SAR
  • Sunshine Coast SAR

In addition, there is the Canadian Coast Guard who are responsible for all ocean rescue, and there is the Canadian Military () who are responsible for all Air rescue. Our local Military SAR squadron is the 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron based out of Comox, BC.

To see a list and a map of all SAR groups in BC you can visit the BC Search and Rescue Association web site.

How can I get involved?

There are SAR teams all over the province.

If you would like to get involved, you can try to contact one in your area.To find out where the closest team is, you can look at the BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) web site where there is a profile on each team and the area it covers.

If you are interested in joining Coquitlam Search and Rescue, you can review the membership page, and our selection process. You might also want to look at the training section to get more idea of what sorts of skills we look for and what sort of time commitment is involved.

In addition to Search and Rescue, there is Emergency Social Services which are called upon to respond to emergency situations by providing shelter and food, and assisting in the recovery from a natural disaster. Finally, if you’re interested in assisting your community for things like emergency preparedness, there are programs administered by EMBC that deal with this.