The Columbia-Shuswap Regional District will examine the issue of road rescue services and how they could be operated in the region following the dissolution of the Falkland Road Rescue Society due to a lack of membership and funding.
The issue was sparked by a situation where there was no one to respond to a road rescue call in Falkland. A woman, who had been in a single-vehicle collision, was trapped in her car for an hour waiting to be extracted. Eventually, a road rescue unit from Vernon was brought in to assist.
Following that, the City of Vernon agreed to provide road rescue services to that area on a temporary basis until another solution could be found.
A similar situation has also taken place in the North Shuswap, where Chase rescue has taken on duties.
The CSRD study is going to look at options for road rescue and its potential costs throughout the region.
“There is a general trend to move away from societies to fire departments providing that service, so that is one of the things we will be look at,” Darcy Mooney, operations manager, told the board.
CSRD staff will be assisted in developing the report by Golden’s fire chief Ken McClure, who has been involved with a pilot project with the province for providing road rescue in that area.
CSRD directors, however, were concerned with the larger implications to their budgets, as it appears no level of government wishes to be responsible for the services.
Municipalities are arguing provincial responsibility in funding services, but it was also brought up that much of the road rescue work takes place on the Trans-Canada Highway, which is a federal responsibility.
There was also concern about burnout for the volunteer road rescue members, who often must deal with horrific accident scenes.
Director Chad Eliason cautioned directors about assuming too much responsibility for the service without funding from other levels of government.
“Downloading is a slippery slope. We, in Salmon Arm, know the value we receive from our volunteer firefighters and I would be cautious about stretching them further.”