A local search and rescue operation has received a significant grant toward training and operations.
Civil Air Search And Rescue Association (CASARA) Niagara, based at Niagara District Airport recently received $4,000 from the Desjardins GoodSpark Community Grants Program.
Desjardins agent Gord Tessier, who presented the cheque, is also a CASARA Niagara volunteer and pilot.
The GoodSpark initiative invited agents to nominate organizations that are important to them, and their community. Tessier has served the Golden Horseshoe region as an insurance agent for 32 years, and the past seven years as a volunteer with CASARA Niagara. Both his work and community service are evidence of Tessier’s compassion for helping people in need.
Tessier, also the CASARA Ontario director of communications, research and development, says with the grant money, the organization has been able to purchase upgraded radio equipment for the Mobile Communications Vehicle, which supports ground, air and marine operations. “This included a new antenna on the vehicle, which increases our ability to locate emergency distress signals. It was also important to replace the CO2 detector in the vehicle, as volunteers spend considerable time working in it,” says Tessier.
At the Niagara District Airport training facility, “the grant has enabled us to improve our internet equipment, and upgrade the lighting system in the garage.”
Across Canada, CASARA volunteers provide humanitarian and air search capabilities in support of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The nine CASARA Ontario Zones support the Transport and Rescue Squadron based in Trenton. Members also promote aviation safety and awareness to the general aviation community.
Locally, 34 volunteers of Niagara train, and are tasked, for a variety of search and rescue situations, at times for assignments outside the province. In the past year, local volunteers have been involved with a number of major searches.
At Niagara District Airport, CASARA facilities include a training classroom, administrative offices, and a mobile command vehicle. The organization’s Cessna 182 operates from the Brampton Airport, while Tessier’s Cessna 337 (a twin engine) operates from Niagara District Airport. CASARA Niagara receives funding expenses for training and actual searches, but as a registered charity, there is an annual budget which is dependent upon donations. The GoodSpark Grant is a substantial help to keep the organization operational.
During the presentation of the cheque to CASARA president Stewart Harris, Tessier said, “Desjardins is proud to help support the search and rescue operations of CASARA volunteers, ‘that others may live.’”
In 2019, Desjardins provided more than $271,000 GoodSpark community grants to organizations across Canada. Each grant includes a donation from a local Desjardins agent.
For information about CASARA, contact email@example.com or the web site, ontario.casara.ca.