How willing would you be to respond to a call for emergency assistance?

What if answering that call meant helping individuals outside of your own community, or across the country? We’ve mentioned before how we believe in volunteers who amplify the capacity of, and provide surge capacity to, search and rescue (SAR) authorities in difficult and austere environments across Canada as a result of the increase in frequency and severity of disasters (such as wildfires).

As GSAR members who historically respond to ground and inland water SAR calls locally, we are committed to our goal of increasing the capacity to contribute to an all-hazards Humanitarian Workforce (HWF) network and, when requested, respond to major emergencies as part of a whole of society strategic response.

In supporting a Humanitarian Workforce to respond to large-scale emergencies that support non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Canada, we continue to evolve how we respond as a volunteer GSAR community by organizing a national level response to major events.

How does an HWF response work?

Operational responses (such as the first deployment of Ontario Search and Rescue Volunteer Association (OSARVA) volunteers to Deer Lake First Nation as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak) are coordinated through the Governmental Operations Centre, the Provincial Emergency Operations Center and Public Safety Canada in the form of a Request for Federal Assistance (RFA) and a Humanitarian Workforce activation. Final initiation for the request is then made by Public Safety Canada who ensures that GSAR team and community members have access to all the necessary resources vital to the health and safety of those impacted by the need for federal assistance.

SARVAC remains ready on a National level to respond if additional assistance is requested by Public Safety Canada, thanks to the Humanitarian Workforce Program.

A final thank you to GSAR members across Canada who responded to and continue to express selfless interest in volunteer deployments outside of their immediate communities.