Halifax Search and Rescue in ‘intensive’ need for more funding

HSAR relies on donations, including $10,000 from 100 Women Who Care

Halifax Search and Rescue may be getting a new remote rescue truck, but it’s still seeking funding for clothes and gear for its volunteers.

Paul Service, communications officer for HSAR, said they’re in an “intensive period” with a need for further funding.

HSAR is an emergency service with over 150 active volunteers. They’re on call 24/7, 365 days a year, and respond to a call from police within minutes for a rescue or search mission.

“A lot of people think that it’s part of the police, but we’re not the coast guard,” said Leanne Rooke, a volunteer with HSAR.  “We’re volunteer, we have limited resources.”

HSAR, a registered charity, is supported by donations, including more than $10,000 raised by 100 Women Who Care Halifax in the last couple of months.

The organization receives funding from the Halifax Regional Municipality to look after operational expenses like power and heat while on rescue missions and activities. The municipality also funds vehicle registration and insurance, but it doesn’t pay for vehicles and equipment like defibrillators and hypothermia prevention kits.

After a year of fundraising, HSAR purchased a new truck equipped with wilderness medical first responder gear that can handle harsh climates.

The new truck can handle harsh climates.   HSAR Twitter

Service said they want the municipality to fund clothing and gear. Currently, volunteers must provide their own search pack kits, which include a GPS, compass and other supplies.

“The clothing shouldn’t be considered just another thing. It’s an important part of what we do in ensuring that our people have what they need,” said Service.

Deputy Mayor Tony Mancini said the problem with funding for clothing is that it is considered an individual item and council is not allowed to fund individuals.

“If I can provide funding directly from my capital funds I would, but like I said, we have guidelines of what we can and can’t do,” said Mancini.

Last year, HRM awarded $57,000 in grants to HSAR.

“I am happy to advocate for them,” said Mancini. “I’m a big fan of search and rescue. I think they are an important part of emergency service, and they’re critical.”

Service said Nova Scotia is behind some provinces when it comes to funding search and rescue. He points to B.C., which funds groups every year.