It was in May that the Golden and District Search and Rescue decided to stop providing road rescue operations outside the municipal boundary. The province and the Town of Golden have finally reached an agreement to fill that gap.
Council has approved a resolution that will enter the town into a memorandum of understanding for the Road Rescue Financial Analysis Project. The year-long project will allow Golden Fire Rescue to take on the responsibility of road rescue outside the municipal boundary, while collecting crucial data that will assist the province in future road rescue projects.
Area residents and travellers have been fortunate enough to be served by Golden Fire Rescue since May, but this new program will remove a lot of red tape, which will cut down on response times.
“The dispatch for ambulance would actually have to get onto the telephone and contact Surrey dispatch, and ask for permission for us to come…That took time. And in the meantime someone is still bleeding, still trapped,” said Golden Fire Chief Ken McClure.
“Now I’m hopeful that we can get service out quite a bit quicker.”
Their new boundaries extend from the top of the Rogers Pass, to the Yoho National Park boundary, and south to Harrogate.
“Council approved to go into the pilot. So it tops up to a maximum of $20,000 costs over and above what would be covered by the province under its original policy,” said David Allen, chief administrative officer for the Town of Golden.
Previously, council had been worried that local taxpayers would be have to pick up the tab for what has always been a provincial responsibility.
“Our councillors are feeling better that our taxpayers won’t be on the hook for providing a service outside of the town,” said Allen.
The memorandum of understanding will be in effect when the province hands over $80,000 of gaming grants to fund the project (received by the Golden Volunteer Firefighters Association).
Allen described the Road Rescue Financial Analysis project as a win/win, giving the fire department the resources required to provide the service, while also gathering crucial data for the province.
“The benefit to the province is that they get good information on the real costs of operating the road rescue service. They haven’t really had that in the past… I imagine there will be a lot of other fire departments that will be looking to see what the results are,” he said.
Golden Fire Rescue will be going through a bit of extra training, but for the most part, they are ready to hit the ground running.
“We train for auto-extrication anyways, because we do it inside the town boundaries. But the dynamics that are out on the highway are a little bit different, higher speeds and bigger vehicles,” said McClure.
“There’s going to be a bit of a learning curve, but our firefighters are up to the challenge. They think that this is a great idea, and it’s going to help citizens.”
Golden Fire Rescue is always looking for more volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a firefighter you can contact McClure at the fire hall at 344-6401, or at 1107 11th Ave. S.