Enhancing Volunteer Services: Developing Operational and Engagement Strategies for Search and Rescue Alberta

Funder: College and Community Social Innovation Fund, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Search and Rescue Alberta is a not-for-profit volunteer association supporting more than 30 Search and Rescue teams, including 1500 highly-trained specialist volunteers, across Alberta. Teams work with law enforcement, fire rescue services, emergency medical services, and parks services in their regions, performing searches and rescues for lost people (e.g., children, dementia patients, those at risk of suicide, or lost adventurers) or evidence of crimes (e.g., discarded weapons), and assisting with provincial responses in the case of natural disasters or states of emergency. These services annually provide millions of dollars in infrastructure and salary relief to emergency services in Alberta and engage the local community in the advocacy and maintenance of its own public safety.

This project is community-based, developed collaboratively by Search and Rescue Alberta and NorQuest College, with consultation from the Office of the Fire Commissioner at Alberta Municipal Affairs. Researchers will conduct focus groups and surveys with volunteer Search and Rescue teams across the province and interview local and regional tasking agencies about their use and understanding of Search and Rescue Services. The project goal is to create recommendations to improve the effectiveness of Search and Rescue volunteer services and administration, including with regard to administrative burdens, standardized training, volunteer engagement, volunteer safety, and relationships to the community and stakeholders.

Search and Rescue (SAR) Alberta

Project Director:

Christy MacLean
Office Administrator, Operations Growth
NorQuest College




Iryna Hurava, MSc
Research Analyst
NorQuest College