The Prince Rupert Ground Search and Rescue team officially unveiled its new nearly $300,000 mobile command centre to the public on Nov. 13.
Though it was the first public showing of the new centre, it has already been put to work over the past two weeks in the continued search for the missing Michael Kitchener.
“In the past we’ve used a wall tent,” Jordy Bouillet, search and rescue (SAR) manager, told The Northern View. “In the environment we live in, in Prince Rupert, it just wasn’t cutting it.”
“This allows us to respond faster and just be a little more organized,” he said. “We don’t have to meet at the SAR hall anymore, we can just meet on the road.”
The model of the command centre is based off of 20 years of proven use in B.C. and almost all rescue groups, from Prince Rupert to down south, have one, Bouillet said.
Prince Rupert Ground Search and Rescue received an array of grants to make the purchase of the new command centre possible. The Prince Rupert Port Authority, thorough its Prince Rupert Port Authority’s Community Investment Fund, provided a $125,300 grant, the B.C. government provided $120,000 through the Community Gaming Grant, DP World gave $20,000 and Community Futures Development provided $12,000.
The new mobile command centre houses SAR management staff who conduct and organize rescue efforts as well as their equipment. It is a specially-designed mobile unit to help SAR teams enhance their emergency response capabilities with its attached cell single booster antenna and other functions.
“That allows us to communicate,” Bouillet said.
The antenna on the vehicle boosts weak cell signals and gives a greater range and strength for hand radios, which SAR uses as their primary source of communication during their rescue efforts, he said.
Having extensive hand radio signal is important because much of the SAR work done around the Prince Rupert area doesn’t even have cell signal to boost. The centre also comes equipped with mobile single repeaters, which cost $17,000 each, that can be set up anywhere in the wilderness to further increase single range, Bouillet said.
Typically the RCMP task SAR, but they can also be tasked by the fire department and BC Ambulance. The Prince Rupert Ground Search and Rescue also work closely with the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, who were also present at the public event.
Norman Galimski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View