Volunteer Search and Rescue in Newfoundland and Labrador started in 1972, under the Emergency Measures Organization, who at that time, organized the teams and trained the local Police as trainers for the teams.
Due of the lack of provincial coordination, a meeting was held in 1996, between representatives from the various SAR teams from across the province. The Newfoundland and Labrador Search and Rescue Association (NLSARA) was formed as a result of this meeting. After about sixteen months, a meeting was held with MHA Gerald Smith, who initiated a Private Members Bill in the House of Assembly. Through negotiations, the Department of Justice took ownership of the Volunteer Search & Rescue. As a result, with the assistance of the Department of Justice and both Police agencies and the efforts of the Association membership, The Newfoundland & Labrador Search & Rescue Association was incorporated and recognized by the province.
Through a continuing partnership with Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety, SAR teams offer safe boating programs in schools, provide courtesy boat inspections and safe boating displays throughout the province. The Association is accredited through the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron to offer boating courses for boaters to qualify for their Operators Competency Card.
Workers Compensation is provided by the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) for all search and rescue, and training related activities.
The Association is now incorporated as a non-profit organization and has been granted charitable status by Revenue Canada. The Association is part of a national body, Search & Rescue Volunteers of Canada (SARVAC) and also utilizes the guidance and support of the National Search & Rescue Secretariat.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Search and Rescue Association is comprised of 27 teams from across Newfoundland and Labrador and is made up of 1000+ volunteers. The Association has an eight person executive consisting of a President, a Treasurer, a Secretary and five directors representing Eastern, Central and Western Newfoundland regions and Central and Northern Labrador regions.
The Association is responsible for ground & inland waters searches under the jurisdiction of the local policing agency. All teams under the Association have standard equipment which is the property of the Association. If a team were to fold, all equipment that was given to that team cannot be sold or given away without the permission of the Association.
The Association recognizes the contribution of the many volunteers throughout the province. Last year, these twenty-seven teams were involved in 100+ missions and provided some twenty-five thousand volunteer hours to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition to search and rescue activities, the teams were also involved in communications and evacuations during the forest fire season, recovery of drowning victims, search for weapons and crime scene searches. They were involved in many festivals and community activities providing security during parades, winter carnivals and air shows. They provided countless hours of training to youth and scouting groups as well as training in the schools on ice safety and the Hug-A-Tree program. Search and rescue volunteers are a key part of the community and depend on community support for their survival.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Search and Rescue Association is recognized nationally for it’s high level of training, expertise, interoperability with the local policing agencies and level of professional services that they provide.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Search and Rescue Association assists GSAR Teams in their efforts to provide a superior and dedicated level of service to the people of Newfoundland & Labrador
Goals & Objectives
- Promote the development of ground search and rescue programs that are consistent with our “Mission Statement”, constitution/bylaws and volunteer principles.
- Provide responsible representation for Newfoundland & Labrador Search and Rescue Teams at the provincial and federal levels.
- Represent the principles of ground search and rescue with other related responding agencies, media and government agencies/departments.
- Develop and maintain a program of minimum recommended training standards.
- Establish and maintain a provincial pool of instructors and training material for all regions of Newfoundland & Labrador
- Establish and maintain a method to evaluate and distribute search management materials in Newfoundland & Labrador.
- Establish a vehicle for the regular distribution of information to all NLSARA members (newsletter/bulletin).
- Provide a research, development and assessment capability with regard to relevant aspects of the Ground Search and Rescue program in Newfoundland & Labrador.
- Develop and maintain a program for Preventative SAR.
- Research and promote effective management procedures for managers of NLSARA Search Teams.
- Establish a working budget that is consistent with the constitution/bylaws, mission statement and goals and objectives of NLSARA.
- Develop and maintain an Association Web Site.