AFTER a busy holiday season spent plucking stranded boarders from the local backwoods, North Shore Rescue is reaching out to the public for help.
The volunteer organization, which led the massive search for a lost snowboarder west of Cypress Bowl in mid-December and has been involved in other high-profile operations since, says it is short $70,000 for a new operating base that will help substantially with those types of efforts.
The $1.4-million command centre at the new City of North Vancouver's works yard on Bewicke Avenue is nearly complete, but grants from public and private donors haven't quite covered the full project, leaving a few small but vital components out of reach, according to team leader Tim Jones.
The new base still needs tables and chairs, computers, specialized washing facilities, a rope-rescue catwalk - used for training exercises - and other important hardware.
It may sound like bells and whistles, said Jones, but in fact the missing equipment will be central to improving response times.
Computers and basic office furniture are used in coordinating searches, he said; a specialized printer will allow the team to create its own detailed up-to-date maps, rather than rely on other agencies in moments of crisis; the catwalk will expand the number of hours of training members receive in rappelling, basket raises and other manoeuvres; and the washing facilities, similar to those used by firefighters, will ensure equipment is maintained in top condition.
Taken together, the upgrades will help get rescuers to victims faster while better protecting the safety of those involved, said Jones.
"At the end of the day, it makes us better at what we do," he said. "When you look at the volume we're handling now, we have to be efficient."
In the wake of the mid-December rescue of out-of-bounds boarder Sebastian Boucher, Cypress Mountain said it would be charging the victim $10,000 for the resort's role in the effort, and donating it to NSR.
The team has refused the money, however - a move that has drawn fire from critics in light of the organization's funding shortfall, said Jones. But taking cash levied from a victim would be dangerous, he argued, as it might dissuade others from calling for help.
"We are convinced that going down that path will only lead to somebody evading rescue," said Jones. "It will cause them to get killed or a family member to get killed or one of us to get killed because they exacerbate the problem."
The team has a policy of accepting funds only from voluntary donors, he said.
Anyone interested in contributing to North Shore Rescue can contact the team at 604-969-7005 or visit its website: northshorerescue. com. Tax receipts will be provided for donations of $20 or more.