Calls growing to send top Vancouver SAR team to Turkiye for earthquake relief
Members of the Turkish-Canadian community are wondering why Vancouver’s top search and rescue team has yet to be deployed to Turkiye to assist with earthquake relief.
The Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Team (HUSAR) – also known as Canada Task Force 1 – is one of five major teams in Canada trained to enter scenes of destruction.
Sina Kutluay, a member of the Turkish Canadian Society, says his group feels disheartened that the SAR team hasn’t been sent.
"Were are just very disappointed that Canada is responding so late,” he said. "I can guarantee you if this happened in Canada, Turkiye teams would be here as first responders … We send our rescue teams all over the world.”
A smaller SAR team of about 10 people from Burnaby left for Turkiye earlier this week, however the Vancouver unit needs the green light from Ottawa to head over.
“I’m sure if you asked any of our team members, we would love to be deployed," Vancouver Fire Chief Karen Fry told CTV News.
"It’s what we do. We jump at any opportunity to help where we can."
Fry says members are standing by, and gear that’s already at the airport can be shipped overseas if the federal government gives them the nod.
“The probability of us being deployed when there is already resources on the ground and not knowing the full context or ask is probably a little more challenging,” she said.
The team has had international deployments in the past, including one for Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.
Joining the calls for more help is Turkish international student Kaan Tascioglu, who says family and friends are struggling back home.
"I spoke my friend. She lost her parents, mom and dad,” he said.
Tascioglu says his family is safe but has had their homes severely damaged. He says assistance is needed quick.
“We need help from other countries," he said. "Yes, they're helping, I know, but it's not enough. There's too many people waiting in the buildings."
CTV News has reached out to the federal government for comment, but has not received a response.
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