Kamloops News

Kamloops Search and Rescue searching for new home

Mike Ritcey and search dog Juno with one of the Kamloops Search and Rescue trucks. The team is looking for space to put this one, along with three other trucks, six snowmobiles, four all terrain vehicles and an inflatable boat.

KAMLOOPS - While Kamloops Search and Rescue are accustomed to finding an injured person in the woods at night, they’re looking for something a little less dramatic right now.

The local search team is trying to find a new home for their gear. Team director Mike Ritcey says they’re working on a few angles right now, but it’s too early to say what will happen, for a variety of reasons.

“We’ve got a few irons in the fire right now,” he says. “I think this will be the year we put the big push on and get something going for sure.”

The team currently has around $1 million worth of search and rescue gear. While the city has given them a free place to hold it all, it leaves a lot to be desired.

“I don’t want to bad mouth it, it’s better than nothing,” Ritcey says. “We’ve outgrown it, though.”

Search manager Alan Hobler says the current location is so tight, it can delay the rescue teams actions by a bit, as they have to move equipment around and pull trucks out to make sure they have the right gear and vehicles. The team has four trucks, six snowmobiles and four all terrain vehicles, along with a variety of other gear including climbing equipment and an inflatable boat.

Hobler says search and rescue teams are often targeted by thieves and while the Kamloops team had anything taken yet, it’s gotten close.

“There’s a lot of break-ins to search and rescue halls because there’s a lot of equipment,” he says. “Our place has been cased, someone’s gone around looking in the windows.”

He says neighbouring sites have been broken in to.

Space and security aren’t the only reasons they are looking for a new facility. Weekly meetings and classroom training move about the city based on what space is available. In addition to gear storage, Ritcey and Hobler say the classroom space would be essential to a new location.

The team’s needs mean most current buildings in Kamloops won’t check all the boxes. Hobler thinks a vacant firehall might work, while Ritcey thinks an ambulance station could work as well, though it's unlikey there are any vacant stations in the area. More likely is they will have to construct a new building, which Ritcey estimates may cost as much as $1 million, in addition to the cost of the property.

Ritcey says the organization is looking at all options right now. While the group is able to maintain top of the line equipment, they don’t have cash on had for a new structure. With 80 search and rescue teams in the province, he’s not expecting the government to jump in.

He’s hopeful the organization will be able to secure land and then work with local companies and organizations to help construct the structure, though he finds it strange to look to others for help.

“Trouble is with search and rescue, we’re used to helping people, so we’re the last to ask for help,” he says.

— This story was updated at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017 to correct the name of the person in the photo. Mike Ritcey is pictured, not, as previously stated, Frank Ritcey.

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