Search and rescue teams to receive better training closer to home

Photo of Bernie Van Tighem, Carrie Schafer and Dean McKerracher

A new Emergency Services Training Centre will be built in Elkford thanks in part to support from Columbia Basin Trust. From left to right: Bernie Van Tighem, director, Elkford Fire Rescue and Emergency Services; Carrie Schafer, CBT community liaison; and Dean McKerracher, mayor of Elkford.

CBT's $40,000 contribution helps fund construction of Elkford Emergency Services Training Centre.

Search and rescue teams from Elkford and nearby communities like Sparwood and Fernie will soon benefit from a new Emergency Services Training Centre, thanks in part to a $40,000 contribution from Columbia Basin Trust (CBT). The $165,000 centre—part of a larger $545,000 project—will include a three-storey live fire training tower, with confined space and high angle rescue capacity.

"The Emergency Services Training Centre is building capacity in the search and rescue volunteers who provide an important service to residents and travellers, and CBT recognizes that," said Carrie Schafer, CBT community liaison. "This is an identified priority for Elkford, and we are pleased to contribute to this valuable centre."

The centre will be developed from portable sea containers to lessen the costs of initial development, and will have two areas that will allow for live fire training in a cost-effective manner.

"Training is critical to safe search and rescue, but it is currently extremely difficult to provide safe and effective live fire training as no local site exists," said Bernie Van Tighem, director of Elkford Fire Rescue and Emergency Services, who notes that local volunteers are often shift workers who can't travel to overnight training events. "We thank Columbia Basin Trust for helping us realize this new facility, which will allow for focused and relevant training that will give team members increased skills and the community better recruitment and retention of volunteers."

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