Former BC search and rescue boss claims ministry staff bullied, intimidated members | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Former BC search and rescue boss claims ministry staff bullied, intimidated members

FILE PHOTO - Search and rescue volunteers look for a missing person Kalamalka Provincial Park near Vernon.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Kamloops Search and Rescue

The former BC search and rescue boss has let loose with numerous complaints about BC emergency management staff in a letter to the premier.

Dwight Yochim, former CEO of BC Search and Rescue Association, sent a letter to the Premier David Eby dated Jan. 8, claiming Emergency Management Ministry staff bullied search and rescue members and misused their authority.

"Until this situation is corrected, both rescue subjects and SAR members are at risk as (the ministry's) practices directly and indirectly impact public and volunteer safety as well as the ability to respond to all types of calls for help," the letter read.

Yochim, who left the provincial association last week, said there is a "systemic attitude of disrespect and institutionalized bullying" of search volunteers, which extends to the assistant deputy minister's level. He said the ministry has changed policies without consultation.

When one policy was changed without notice, the provincial association asked ministry staff why it hadn't been consulted.

"I could have consulted with you, but it's not like we would have changed anything," a top employee with the ministry responded.

Yochim's letter does not name the employee, but calls them the ministry's search and rescue director.

Yochim also said the ministry audited the safety practices of the province's 78 volunteer organizations. The results showed significant concerns, but the provincial association was never provided a copy despite repeatedly asking.

Instead of providing a copy or details of the concerns, the ministry pressed the association for information on how it learned of the audit rather than addressing the safety issues, according to the letter.

Yochim also goes on to accuse the ministry of ignoring and unnecessarily stalling technological advances in search and rescue.

iNFOnews.ca reached out to Premier David Eby's and Emergency Management Minister Bowin Ma's offices for a comment on Yochim's letter, but they were not immediately able to respond.

Yochim has not returned a phone call from iNFOnews.ca and the provincial search and rescue association has not responded.


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