Be aware: if anyone phones you and asks for funds for a Search and Rescue group, it's a scam. " We cannot state clearly enough, not one of the 80 recognized SAR groups in British Columbia, ask for donations by phone. And neither do any of the recognized air or marine search and rescue groups in BC. Simply put, if you receive a phone call asking you to donate to search and rescue, it is not us," says a news release from the BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA), an umbrella group representing the volunteer ground search and rescue groups in BC recognized by Emergency Management BC (EMBC).
Getting funding for a Search and Rescue group is difficult. Groups spend some of their volunteer time and energy filling out applications for grants to cover important safety and rescue equipment. At this time, the Rossland Search and Rescue group is hoping to obtain a grant that would enable them to build a shelter to house their gear -- Rossland SAR is the only group in the province that has no "home" for their equipment. To have a scam artist taking funds from people who are willing to support search and rescue is distressing, when actual search and rescue groups have no real assurance of funding for their needs.
It is our local search and rescue groups who are requested by the RCMP or local police authorities and the BC Ambulance Service to search for and rescue missing children, the elderly, back country enthusiasts, and anyone else in need. When tragedy strikes, it is volunteer SAR members who assist the BC Coroner Service with body recoveries as requested. And when natural disasters strike, SAR groups assist local government agencies in the delivery evacuation notices as requested.
The North Shore Search and Rescue group in North Vancouver -- their official name is the "North Shore Rescue Team Society" and they are probably the busiest SAR group in the province -- is in the process of suing an organization that has been engaging in aggressive and misleading telephone solicitation for funding. The North Shore group has a particular interest in stifling the scammers, as they are using a name that makes targets think they are the legitimate North Shore SAR team. You can read the Statement of Claim by clicking that link; the relief they are seeking includes an injunction, and damages, including the funds that were raised by misrepresentation.
If anyone calls you up and purports to be raising money for a search and rescue group, ask the caller for the name of the group and its charity registration number. Do not commit yourself to any gift of money until you check. If you have already given funding and have concerns about whether the gift went to a real charity, or if you do not receive a tax receipt for your donation, contact the Canada Revenue Agency by e-mail at:
Or by telephone at 1-800-267-2384.
SAR groups in BC do need financial support. You can contact them directly, or donate to BCSARA on their behalf. If you wish to donate to the Rossland Search and Rescue group, you can tell BCSARA that in the "message" box on the donation page. Donating through BCSARA will ensure that you receive a tax receipt for donations of over $20. If you don't need a tax receipt you can donate directly by contacting Graham Jones at P.O. Box 1113, Rossland, BC., or e-mail him at email@example.com
Meanwhile, be sure to carry your map and compass in the backcountry, along with the rest of your survival gear.