N.L. ground search and rescue loses good people to fundraising burnout, says director

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ST JOHN'S, Antigua And Barbuda — The president of Newfoundland and Labrador's search and rescue association testified today his group needs sustainable funding in order to keep operating.

Harry Blackmore told a public inquiry into ground search and rescue services that he volunteers between 40 and 60 hours a week with the association to co-ordinate, organize and administer ground and rescue services in the province.

He says the province's ground search and rescue services rely entirely on volunteers, grants and fundraising, adding that he often loses good people to burnout from the stresses of having to raise money.

The Public Inquiry Respecting Ground Search and Rescue for Lost and Missing Persons was announced last year after 14-year-old Burton Winters died on sea ice in Labrador after his snowmobile got stuck.

Blackmore says he estimates volunteer search and rescue members collectively contribute 125,000 hours per year — about $3.1 million if their time was valued at $20 an hour.

He says a funding commitment of $2 million a year for two years, and then $1 million a year after that, could pay for equipment upgrades as well as an administrator and two training officers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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