MIRAMICHI (GNB) – About 400 volunteers from New Brunswick ground search and rescue teams will have access to new training courses and facilities over the next three years thanks to funding by the federal and provincial governments.

“We are pleased to support this important project that will improve the safety of all regions in our province,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser. “The ground search and rescue teams play an essential role by providing assistance to any resident in distress.”

Fraser spoke on behalf of Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry.

The goal of the project, managed by Miramichi Ground Search and Rescue, is to provide basic and advanced training for all teams in the province. It will help volunteers to improve their skills and leadership abilities while allowing teams to have their own instructors for future training. The project will also see the establishment of a provincial Ground Search and Rescue Training Centre in Miramichi.

The training project is valued at $957,000 of which the federal government is providing $753,000 through the New Initiatives Fund with the National Search and Rescue Secretariat in the Office of Public Safety Canada.

The remaining $204,000 is being provided through in-kind contributions by the provincial government, Miramichi Ground Search and Rescue and a number of search and rescue partners across the province.

“The Government of Canada is proud to support such innovative ideas to enhance the search and rescue capacity in the region, and is confident that this will help in keeping our community safe,” said Miramichi-Grand Lake MP Pat Finnigan.

Finnigan attended for federal Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale.

The project was a joint proposal submitted by Miramichi Ground Search and Rescue and the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization of the Department of Justice and Public Safety. It will provide a total of 33 training courses free of charge to all the volunteers in the province.

The training package includes courses from basic to advanced and some specialized courses. They include Basic Searcher, Team Leader, Search Manager, Managing Lost Person Incidents, Lost Person Behavior, First Aid, Wilderness and Remote First Aid, Basic Emergency Management, Incident Command System 100/200 and 300 levels.

“This project is important to the development of ground search and rescue teams in New Brunswick and their ability to provide better services to the population of the province,” said Jerry McKenna, project manager for the Miramichi Ground Search and Rescue new initiative fund committee. “Up until now, volunteers had to spend long hours in fund-raising activities in order to get funding to provide the necessary training to all team members. In addition to receiving better training, they will be able to dedicate more time to planning and preparation for ground search and rescue operations.”