July 10, 2018 9:32 pm
Updated: July 12, 2018 12:02 am

B.C.’s cave rescue service says it’s badly underfunded

Tanya Beja talks to the family of a former B.C. man who was one of the divers who saved a Thai soccer team from a deep cave.

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The group responsible for responding to emergencies in B.C. caves is asking for more funding from the province.

About 200 volunteers with the Alberta/British Columbia Cave Rescue Service (ABCCRS) answer calls for help from adventure-seekers stuck in caves.

Globlanews.ca coverage of the Thai rescue

“Those volunteers would like to continue to devote their time and energy to this. But we’re at a point now where if we’re going to be ready when the province calls, the province is going to need to help us out,” Doug Munroe with the ABCCRS said.

The organization responds to emergencies about four times a year. Volunteers are reimbursed for operational expenses, including mileage, but Munroe says the money isn’t enough to purchase and replace specialty equipment such as ropes, stretchers and cave radios that volunteers rely on.

WATCH: B.C. cavers say local rescue programs underfunded


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The service is looking for about $25,000 a year.

“Most of our equipment needs to be replaced every 10 years,” Munroe said. “The amount we get given from the province to recover our costs for responding when they call, is not enough to cover that.”

READ MORE: ‘9 days, 7 missions and 63 hours inside’: B.C. diver part of daring Thai cave rescue

After a group of young soccer players became trapped in a Thai cave, the ABCCRS wrote a letter to Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth highlighting its challenges.

“The bottom line here is that our ability to respond to a situation like that in Thailand, which, with over a thousand known caves in B.C. is an ever-present possibility — is becoming precarious.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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