Public Safety Lifeline Volunteer Award Winners 2019

A Photo of the Public Safety Lifeline Volunteer Winners for 2019

Deb Chmara – Emergency Support Services

Deb Chmara began her volunteer career in the field of safety and emergency response in Saskatchewan at the age of 13 by becoming a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguard. Throughout her adolescence and post-secondary education at both the University of BC and University of Victoria, she continued to take on new opportunities and certification related to emergency response. Deb was a teacher by profession for 35 years having taught in the Yukon and in Castlegar. For 13 years, Deb taught a locally developed Wilderness Survival and Stewardship course to students in grades 7 and 8, with an integral focus on emergency preparedness and response knowledge.

Deb was instrumental in developing the first Red Cross Branch for Castlegar. She responded and assisted local West Kootenay communities in their capacity to deal with Level 1 emergencies, and was the Emergency Support Services Association Representative for the West Kootenays in the beginning years of Emergency Support Services (ESS). Deb became, and continues to be, the ESS Director for the City of Castlegar and when the Mobile Support Team was established, she was on the first MST Team for the East/West Kootenays and continues with the MST today.

Deb worked internationally for 6 years with the Canadian and International Red Cross, and two of her most memorable deployments were for Hurricane Katrina and Fort McMurray. As an Organizational Delegate, a focus of her work was to support Red Cross Societies in developing countries in the development of their Emergency Management Teams and Programs. Some of the countries she served in were the Philippines, Afghanistan, Gaza Strip, Liberia, Tajikistan and Albania.

 Deb continues to increase the capacity of the Castlegar ESS Red Cross Team and is active in continuing to enhance the capacity of other West Kootenay teams. Currently, she is sharing responsibilities in leading a Regional Group Lodging Team initiative for the West Kootenays which will serve all communities, and ESS/Red Cross Emergency Management Teams in the region.

Les Sakals – Search and Rescue

Les retired from teaching in 2002. He enjoys backcountry skiing in the wintertime and trips in his sea kayak in remote sections of freshwater wilderness during the summer. He also enjoys going to live theatre with his wife, and taking trips to see his children and grandchildren.

Les joined Search and Rescue in the mid-80’s and has been a supporter ever since; his desire to improve his bush skills and help others really appealed to him, as well as the opportunity to work with people of a similar mindset. In the beginning of his SAR career he was a ground pounder and the treasurer, he remembers reporting bank balances fewer than five dollars, and operating with little to no equipment. Times have changed dramatically in the last 12 years, with the dedicated resource of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, financially supporting search and rescue and receiving gaming grants, under the guidance of Neil Brewer. More recently, the government grants have been amazing. The SAR team now has vehicles, equipment, a new building and most importantly training that prepares them to deal with many tasks.

Les started participating as a Search Manager in the mid ‘90s and has managed many tasks with the help of his capable team. Not all were successful, some memorable ones bring out strong emotions, relief and gratitude by those they’ve helped but through it all they did their best under trying circumstances.

Much of Les’ life over the last 20 years has been centered on search and rescue and he can honestly say that it has been very satisfying and he has truly enjoyed it. Les is extremely honoured that his team feels he is worthy of this award.


Douglas William Franklin Barry – Emergency Radio Communications

July 5, 1942 – October 31, 2016

VE7WLF / VE7TPDoug Barry was born in Vancouver, and later moved to Burnaby, where he attended Nelson Avenue Elementary, McPherson Park Junior High and Burnaby South Senior High where he graduated in 1961. Throughout high school, Doug was involved in Air Cadets where he earned a flying scholarship and his pilot’s license at age 17. In 1964 Doug became involved with the Pacific Flying Club, where his interest in Air Traffic Control was born.

In 1969 Doug began his long and distinguished career as an Air Traffic Controller. In 1972 Doug started working at YVR (Vancouver Airport). From 1981-1985 Doug worked as an Instructor, then returned to the tower in October 1986 where he stayed until his retirement in 2003. While working at Vancouver International Airport, he met the love of his life, Irene.

Doug (VE7WLF) and his son James (VE7LZR) earned their Amateur Radio Licenses together in 1993. By early 1994, Doug was volunteering in Amateur Radio for Surrey’s Emergency Program.

Doug, with his distinctive baritone voice, truly enjoyed amateur radio, joining the Delta Amateur Radio Society (DARS) and participating as an active member for many years, including as Club President. A particular passion for Doug was working on the distracted driving legislation with the B.C. provincial government. Doug was also a long time member of VECTOR – Vancouver’s Emergency Community Telecommunications Organization, and was a regular participant in VECTOR’s affairs and activations.

Doug parlayed his talents in air traffic control and his passion for aviation safety and amateur radio into active involvement with PEP Air and the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA). Doug gave generously of his time, assisting on numerous missions to help those in distress.

Among the most visible proponents for the development of emergency communications, Doug was a long-time EMBC Public Safety Lifeline Volunteer and dedicated advocate of Emergency Management in British Columbia. Doug was the Municipal Emergency Radio Communications Coordinator for the City of Delta and played a pivotal role in the development of the City of Delta’s Emergency Radio Communications program.

Doug was dedicated to the business of supporting Delta’s Emergency Program, whether by encouraging new volunteers, training new recruits, or finding new and innovative ways to meet the needs of people impacted by disasters and emergencies.

 Doug was tremendously devoted to his community, and gave generously of his time. He shared his talents with the Delta Police Department at the North Delta COPs Office as a Coordinator for North Delta Community Crime Watch, with Operation Red Nose, and with the Tsawwassen First Nation for their Canoe Journeys.

Doug also used his natural affinity for amateur radio at numerous community events including the Celebration of Light, the Rotary Bike-A-Thon, the New Westminster Hyack Parade, the Run for Life, the Terry Fox Run, the Ladner May Days Parade, the Delta Triathlon, the Tour de Delta, the Boundary Bay Airshow, Operation Red Nose, and the Abbotsford Air Show.

Doug was thoughtful in his approach, methodical in his delivery, and gentle in his critique. Doug was kind, considerate, and the true measure of a gentleman. When asked, he served, and it’s those countless hours of service that he performed for so many years in our province that must be acknowledged and commended.

Doug passed away suddenly on October 31, 2016 after surgery and a long but valiant battle with cancer. His health issues over the last few years of his life did not prevent him from remaining upbeat, and maintaining his devotion to his family and his community.

Doug is survived by his loving wife Irene, son James and his wife Sheila, son Grant and his wife Christine, his stepdaughter Jeassea and grandchildren Makayla, Victoria, Kate, Zack and step-grandchildren Heather, Brent, Derrick, Branden and Steven, and a virtual army of friends and colleagues.

After serving the City of Delta and the Province of British Columbia for many years as an outstanding radio amateur, mentor, teacher and colleague, Doug leaves behind a tremendous legacy in Delta and throughout the province.


John Lamb – PEP Air

John is a licensed commercial pilot with over 4000 hrs and 38 years of coastal flying experience. He was introduced to the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) through his friends in the Nanaimo Flying Club and was inspired by CASARA members to use his aircraft and skills to help others in distress.

John has flown over 1000 volunteer hours comprised of 280 training flights and 110 operational searches during his 33 years as a CASARA/PEP Air pilot. John is currently the senior PEP Air search pilot and training officer for Mid-Vancouver Island. Amongst John’s many accomplishments, he and his crew were awarded first place in two National SAR competitions (2004 and 2015) and first place in the 2009 Western Canadian competition.

John’s most memorable accomplishment was designing and leading the re-construction of an un-used hangar to create a permanent training facility and search headquarters for Mid-Vancouver Island PEP Air. Several members of his Nanaimo PEP Air team contributed their time and skills to make this facility a reality. The four-month construction project is an outstanding example of the spirit and dedication of their members.

John and his team member’s capability to conduct air searches is only possible because the PEP Air volunteers maintain their training and certification to fulfill many ground roles and crew positions. The support and training that they receive from the Royal Canadian Air Force (442 Sqn) is essential for them to maintain the professional search capabilities required for their work.

Finally, John would like to thank his wife Lillian for supporting his PEP Air endeavours including sudden absences for search call-outs.


Dale Hark – Road Rescue

Dale and his twin brother were born in Vancouver; living on Vancouver Island for over four years, they were raised and continue to live in South Eastern B.C.

Dale’s desire for supporting and helping others in need started in 1983 after he got a job at the local Elko Sawmill. He became the first aid attendant while working at the mill, and his passion for people grew from there. Dale started to assist with overseeing and training the sawmill fire bridge and in 1991, eventually took over emergency management for the mill, which then drove the development of an emergency response crew for not just fires, but other emergency situations.

Dale continued to hone his skills and in 2013 he began his role as a member of Cranbrook’s SAR Highway Rescue team and was blown away by the skill and professionalism of the team. Their crew responded 24 hours a day, seven days a week to any type of motor vehicle incident, and the crew averaged 80 to 100 calls a year which rates them the top three busiest road rescue societies in B.C. Of course raising a family did take priority, and as his four children grew up he began to take on even more activities with the support of his wife. In 2015 Dale became ground rescue certified with Cranbrook SAR and he is looking forward to gaining his ropes rescue certification with ground search and rescue.

Currently, Dale works full time for Canfor in Elko and lives in Cranbrook with his wife Karen, where he serves as Battalion Chief for Elko Volunteer Fire Department as paid on-call officer and firefighter. Dale assists with fire fighter training and he does first responder training for all of the departments. When at home, Dale continues to respond with Cranbrook SAR, and teaches all levels of first aid within the community.

Dale would like to thank his nominator(s) for nominating him for this award. He would also like to thank the awesome highway rescue crew and all the South Country Elk Valley firefighters that he has had the honour of training and serving with. But more importantly, he would like to thank his amazing wife Karen who has supported and continues to support him as this is a sacrifice that many families, like his own, experience with volunteer service.


Paddy Flanagan – Lifetime Achievement (Search and Rescue, Road Rescue)

Patrick, known as Paddy, was born and raised in Rossland where he developed a keen interest in the outdoors. After he graduated high school, he attended the Open Pit Mining School in Rossland, and in 1974 he started to work for the Kaiser Coal in Sparwood.

Paddy was quite involved with Mine Rescue, first aid, the fire department, ambulance services, and the use of extrication tools. In the late 70’s Paddy took a basic search and rescue (SAR) course and was involved in some searches, such as avalanche searches in the Elk Valley. In the early 80’s Paddy took his search managers course, cliff rescue course, and also apprenticed and received his journeyman lineman papers. His passions for mine rescue and the great outdoors were a perfect mixture for him.

Paddy moved to Kaslo in 1989 and began working for West Kootenay Power as a journeyman lineman and joined the local SAR group.  After helping out with some vehicle accidents using chain hoists, hacksaws and chisels, the Kaslo SAR group realized there was a need for auto extrication tools. In order to raise enough money to buy their first jaws of life, the team cut logging truck loads of firewood and have been upgrading and improving ever since. Paddy’s rope rescue skills from his experience at the mine came in handy and due to the steep landscape of their area, he was able to support the SAR team in becoming certified in rope rescue. He taught not only his own team, but also local groups basic search and rescue skills and was involved with Kootenay Heli Rescue. He was also trained as an Avalanche Tech 1 and is Mountain Rescue 2 certified.

Paddy feels extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to take advantage of such great training that has been provided over the years by his employers, SAR teams and the Province of British Columbia, as this training and these experiences have helped him in all aspects of his life.

Paddy is also very thankful to his wife Claudette for supporting him through it all.