Search and rescue volunteers
With our diverse, rugged geography and extensive outdoor recreational opportunities, B.C. has the most recorded search and rescue incidents in Canada.
Emergency Management BC (EMBC) assists with the coordination of dispatch when contacted by a requesting agency; we aren't the onsite commander for search and rescue operations. We provide support to search and rescue through:
- expense reimbursement to support deployment
- developing support policy
- facilitating incident debriefs, and
- providing input into training standards
What volunteers do
Volunteers may be called upon to assist police in searching for lost recreationalists or to help in accessing and transporting injured people if specialized skills or equipment are needed. They also support local communities during emergencies by helping distribute information during evacuations and other response activities.
How to join
The B.C. government doesn't directly recruit volunteers. Volunteers are recruited and organized in groups at a community level. The BC Search and Rescue Association exists to represent these volunteer groups in B.C.
To become a search and rescue volunteer:
- Find your local search and rescue group.
- Speak directly with them to find out if they are recruiting and what skill sets they require.
The Justice Institute of BC (JIBC) partners with EMBC, the RCMP and the BCSARA to deliver search and rescue training to volunteers.
For convenience, we've provided useful forms and guidance materials that SAR volunteers may require.
General — for all public safety lifeline volunteers
Volunteer safety and code of conduct
We are committed to the safety of all public safety lifeline volunteers.
Code of conduct
Volunteers have a high level of responsibility and accountability while performing their duties. The code of conduct documents outline the expectations and responsibilities of each registered volunteer, and contain the process for a breach of the Code of Conduct.
Workers compensation coverage
- Policy (PDF, 407KB)
- Procedures (PDF,245KB)
- FAQs (PDF, 328KB)
- WorksafeBC Form 7 - Employer's Report of Injury or Occupational Disease
- Policy (PDF, 120 KB)
- Procedures (PDF, 227 KB)
- FAQs (PDF, 230 KB)
- Form (PDF, 98 KB)
- Instructions (PDF, 260 KB)
- 5.02 Expense Reimbursement Request Form
- 5.02 Expense Reimbursement Request Supplement
- 5.04 Volunteer Equipment Repair/Replacement Request Form Instructions
- 5.04 Volunteer Equipment Repair/Replacement Request Form
Search and rescue specific
Search and rescue policy and safety information
The Search and Rescue policy outlines what responses are allowable under an EMBC task number, including which responsible agencies and applicable circumstances, are authorized to request the services of GSAR.
- SAR Provincial Operating Guidelines (PDF, 1MB)
- Changes to the SAR Safety Program (PDF, 5.6MB)
- Search and Rescue Safety Program Guide (PDF, 1MB)
- SAR Safety Program FAQs (PDF, 77KB)
Critical incident stress management
GSAR volunteers are exposed to events that have the potential to create a significant and strong physiological response. Critical incident stress is a common reaction to abnormal events. The Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) program delivers a variety of services to help search and rescue volunteers deal with critical incident stress.
Ground search and rescue (GSAR) winter response
The Winter Response policy is in place to ensure the safety of GSAR responders while operating in a winter environment terrain that has the potential for avalanche risk.
When requested, GSAR volunteers may conduct body recoveries on behalf of the BC Coroners Service. This policy outlines the conditions and responsibilities of the volunteers while responding to such a request.
Class 'D' Helicopter Rescue. Contact SAR specialists for application.