PRRD Board weighs costs of Search and Rescue, STARS Air Ambulance

Stars Air Ambulance stock photoStars Air Ambulance stock photo

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. — In Thursday’s regional district meeting, the PRRD’s board of directors carried the motion to allocate $170,000 to STARS for 2016 in a one-time grant. Additionally, the Board directed staff to consult with Electoral Area Directors and member municipalities on increasing the Search and Rescue Services yearly grant to $50,000 in 2017, and on the possibility of it becoming a regional service.

The district decided that future grants for STARS would be revisited after discussing Search and Rescue options more thoroughly — as well, the regional board would look to advocate for increased funding from the Province.

According to a report from Protective Services Manager Dan Ross, presented to the board, STARS responded to an average of 19 calls for service in the regional district from 2010 to 2015 — 10 per cent of those on average are industrial responses paid for directly by the company requesting the service.

The report starts that the average cost of a STARS flight is $5,400, while the average cost per call within the PRRD was $46,000 since 2010.

In regards to Search and Rescue, right now there are four SAR groups in the Peace Region: North/South Peace, Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd.

They operate within their respective regions and require funding assistance as their services are needed in their role of emergency management.

However, the report to the Board says, the Province’s current grant of $22,000 doesn’t cover operational expenses — due to rising equipment costs and the increase in training standards.

On average, the SAR groups respond to 32 incidents in the Peace River Regional District per year.