Lack of participation hinders funding for Beaconsfield Volunteer Rescue Squad
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Beaconsfield Volunteer Rescue Squad Director Miguel Castelo (left) said the group is frustrated by the city’s lack of financial commitment and underuse of their services.
The Beaconsfield Volunteer Rescue Squad is at an impasse with the town’s administrators as its request for further funding at the August 24 council meeting was met with a refusal from Mayor Georges Bourelle who said the group must first produce a viable action plan.
“The Beaconsfield Citizens Association has an emergency preparedness plan and that includes us,” said Miguel Castelo, the squad’s director “But the mayor keeps looking at it and rejecting it without any real reason.”
Castelo said requests have also been made to update electronic equipment including walkie-talkies, “If I need the defibrillator and it’s in the truck and I can’t communicate, then that becomes an issue.” He said the feedback he keeps getting is that the group is not active enough to warrant further funding but the group said it’s a catch-22 situation in that the town doesn’t invite the participation of the group’s 10-member services.
“We’ve been trying to get approval from the city for a long time to be trained as first responders and also certification for official search and rescue from the Sûreté du Québec but the city keeps denying us because it costs money.”
Beaconsfield’s Urban Planning and Municipal Patrol Director Denis Chabot said while he commends the volunteers’ efforts, the problem stems from the lack of members. “Right now, it’s a small group and that doesn’t give them the latitude to function properly in being able to serve the population well. There is not enough staff to ensure a presence all the time.”
Chabot said apart from a $155,000 truck purchased “five or six years ago” the annual budget of $6600 includes telecom services, fuel, equipment maintenance and medical sundries including bandages and ice packs. It doesn’t include the vehicle maintenance, and members’ insurance. “If they’re not serving the population, it’s kind of hard to justify the money we’re giving them on a yearly basis.”
While a fully functioning volunteer squad would ease the financial burden on the town’s coffers, the associated training is also significant.
“Training a squad like that is timely and costly,” said Chabot, of the $110 per person for a first-aid course, and further specialized equipment training. “You also need the staff available to be on call at all hours. With the staff they have right now, they just can’t do that. It’s taxpayers’ money that we need to spend wisely.”