Frequently Asked Questions



Why is your website so verbose?

  • We aren’t wordsmiths.  We are searchers.
  • The website has been around since late 1995, before Google (1997) and PayPal (1999).  There was under 1 million pages on the web when we launched our site.  Here is a version from 1998.
  • The content has been updated by many different authors over the years.
  • We maintain the availability of so much content because there are links all over the internet to our pages.  We don’t want to break them.
  • No one is paid to maintain our content.  The site is administered by volunteers.

Why is Your Website Vague?

  • We aren’t wordsmiths.  We are searchers.
  • Privacy concerns.  We adhere to the British Columbia Personal Information Protection Act.  We can’t use personally identifiable information on our site.  This includes search locations, dates, type of search and search results.
  • SARBC uses many alternative techniques.  We also refine and practice them extensively.  They work really well for us.  Several years ago another SAR team tried to copy our techniques.  They didn’t work out well for them and our techniques were discredited in the BC SAR community.  Our techniques are robust, efficient and useful.  It takes a few years of practice to become a competent searcher with our techniques.  Since this happened we keep our techniques vague for these reasons:  improper use could lead to missed clues and a negative subject impact and we don’t want our methods discredited by groups that have not learn the proper way to use them.
  • We have been attacked regularly since 2002 and are concerned with releasing anything that may be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Why are your members and directors not listed?

  • We are proud of the work we do with SARBC; however, some people in the province greatly misunderstand our organization and its purpose.  Having any association with SARBC could impact our professional or personal lives for reasons that we don’t understand.
  • The directors of the society are listed on our Charity tax return and filed with our annual report.

Why all the blurry faced photos?

  • They look cool.
  • There are non-blurry faced photos on our site.
  • Some members, including the photographer of many of our photos,  are of the opinion that the artistic quality is enhanced by the narrow depth of field.

How long has the website been around?

A copy of the website from the Wayback Machine claims that the website came on line October 26th, 1995.





The SARBC.ORG domain was registered on October 9th, 1995.

Even though the Wayback Machine doesn’t show SARBC.ORG as a site until the beginning of 1998, the October 26th, 1995 is reasonable based on the domain registration date and the collective remembrances of long time SARBC members.

The domain was registered on June 8th, 2001.  This was shortly after the “.ca” domains became managed by the CIRA.



How many searches do you go on?

  • As with all SAR teams in BC it varies each year.
  • We don’t do many mutual aid calls so our numbers don’t get padded by them
  • We don’t record a call out as a search unless a SSU Vehichle departs the office.
  • SARBC adheres to the British Columbia Personal Information Protection Act.  We can’t release information about our searches without being impacted by PIPA.
  • You can check out the recent rescues page at Project Lifesaver:  Search for Victoria.

What is your success rate?

For project lifesaver searches: 100%

For other searches, just like all long established search and rescue teams: between 0.1% and 100%

Other than Project Lifesaver, we search when the chances of success are low.

What searches have you done?

Due to our respect for the privacy laws of BC and the families that we search on behalf of we don’t release details on the searches we are involved in.

If the family has talked publicly about us we can direct you to those articles:

South China Morning Post: SARBC continues search after official organizations call off search.

Also you can check out the recent rescues page at Project Lifesaver:

Search for Victoria.

Where have you searched?

SARBC is called the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia because we are available to respond and have responded across British Columbia. We are based in Victoria but have conducted operations across the province. Here are a non-exhaustive list of places:

  • Oak Bay
  • Vancouver
  • UBC Endownment Lands
  • Revelstoke
  • Prince George
  • Golden
  • Smithers
  • Mission
  • Comox Valley
  • Duncan
  • Saanich
  • Victoria
  • Sooke
  • Metchosin
  • Port Renfrew
  • Jordan River

How do I volunteer?

Please check out our volunteering page.  We do our best to make sure that you find the appropriate search team that aligns with your goals.  SARBC is not normally one of the teams in the media.  Search and rescue is not a walk in the park.  It is usually hard work in treacherous and inhospitable conditions.

What rescue equipment does SARBC own?

SARBC owns search and rescue equipment to perform all the services that the Special Services Unit and Analysis Unit provide.  There is a saying that might be from the fire service: “if you don’t own it, then it is not yours.”  SARBC owns the equipment and has the training to reliably provide all the services that it lists and offers.  If you examine the records at the CRA Charities Directorate you can see that we have our equipment listed as assets.


Do you make “cold calls”?

No cold calls have been made from 2009 to the time of this writing.

Cold calls are where a fundraising call goes to someone who has never been a donor or received a call from the calling organization before.

Why didn’t you have online donations until March 2017?

We have had a page for several years.  Thank you to all our supporters that have utilised it.

We didn’t include a link from our website to the donation page because there were some concerns about not having an SSL (https) certificate installed.  This may seem like a weird reason; however, our volunteers are not website experts and will always err on the side of caution when it comes to safety, security and privacy.  As of this writing (April 2017) the website has always, since its creation in 1995, has been developed and maintained by volunteers of our society.  We made the choice to focus spending of the donations we receive directly on our charitable programs instead of on peripherals like our website.

Why do you do phone based fundraising?

  • We have very limited access to other funding sources
  • We are not Emergency Management BC (EMBC) affiliated so we get no operational reimbursement nor training funding from them or their designated agents.
  • With past experience and in examining the donations that go to other search and rescue charities in BC,  phone based solicitation is the only way that we can  fund-raise enough to meet our required budget.
  • No one has given us any acceptable fundraising alternative.

Why does your budget seem so large?

  • Realistically it is quite moderate.
  • We are an operationally active team.  Conducting search and rescue operations and maintaining a level of readiness requires more funding than you may think.
  • We own and maintain all our own vehicles.  Some search teams may have their vehicles owned and maintained by the municipality that they are affiliated to which keeps the vehicles off their books.
  • We have 5 response vehicles, 4 trailers and 3 boats that we maintain operational readiness for.  This includes ICBC emergency vehicle insurance which is among the more expensive rate classes.
  • We lease our office and base of operations space.  Although we have an incredibly favourable lease it is still a commercial space and costs more than a team that might own their own building or reside in municipal space.

Do any members of SARBC benefit financially?


There are no paid members of our society.  We do not receive gasoline reimbursements or stipends for our volunteer service.

Many members actually contribute significant amount of money and equipment to the society as well as their time.

Our members volunteer because we have a shared vision and believe that it is the right thing to do.


Is SARBC a registered charity?

Yes, the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia is a registered charity and has been since around 1984.  Public documents about our charitable status are available on the CRA Charities Directorate page.  Search for “Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia”

Why is your society called the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia?

The Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia’s name comes from the fact that we respond all over British Columbia.  Check out this other FAQ of a partial list of where we have responded.  SARBC was granted the right to change its name to the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia by the provincial government in 1984.

To summarize: we perform search and rescue operations in the operational area of the province of British Columbia.  Hence, SARBC.

What does SARBC stand for?

SARBC: [S]earch [a]nd [R]escue Society of [B]ritish [C]olumbia

Who is on the Board of SARBC?

The board changes at our yearly AGM.  We don’t want to have to remember to update the site each year, among other reasons, so we don’t post it on the site.  Contact us through our contact form if you want to contact any one on the board, by position.  You can also send an email to our general inbox:

Does SARBC have any paid members?

No.  There are no paid members.

All members of our society and of the SSU are volunteer and receive no compensation for the activities they perform on behalf of the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia.


How do I volunteer for SARBC?

If you are interest in volunteering for SARBC check out our page on volunteering.  In BC there are many options to volunteer with SAR.  We encourage you to find the best fit for you.  If this turns out to be with SARBC then we welcome you.