The new door to the Paterson Hangar and the Northwestern Ontario Air Search and Rescue Association's newest plane were both funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
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A new hangar door will help eliminate any potential delays for Thunder Bay’s volunteer air search and rescue.
The not-for-profit Northwestern Ontario Air Search and Rescue Association christened its new hangar door Friday after receiving a $30,500 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The hangar, which was donated a number of years ago, used to have a solid wood door that required a hand crank with chains to raise it so the aircraft could get out.
Dan Kuss, Thunder Bay unit director for the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, said the wooden door was becoming not only a safety hazard but also could cost the pilots valuable time during a potential emergency.
“We figured before someone got hurt we should really do something about it,” Kuss said. “Safety wise is a big factor but also the fact that we can get out of the door quicker. We could see the potential in delays because the chains had fallen off a number of times. It was just something that was getting uglier as time progressed.”
The NOASARA works alongside the OPP and military in order to perform searches from the air. The volunteer search and rescuers do flybys for missing people or boaters, overdue aircraft, and finding emergency transmitters.
Instead of calling for a Hercules class plane to come in, the smaller aircraft at the Paterson Hangar can do the job instead.
Kuss said this saves taxpayers about $20,000 an hour to bring in a Hercules compared to NOASARA that costs $400 an hour.
He also mentioned that they are looking for more volunteers and are hosting an open house on Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Paterson Hangar.
The organization also received $75,000 in 2008 for a new plane.
MPP Bill Mauro (Lib. Thunder Bay – Atikokan) said it’s important to support organizations like this one because it fills a service that would otherwise be paid for by the province.
“It’s more about them as volunteers and what they do as an air search and rescue and water rescue and missing person rescue unit,” Mauro said. “These are volunteers who do a tremendous amount of great work for people of our region. Whenever you can help charities and not-for-profit organizations in a small way like today it’s a nice day.”
Mauro added that Trillium Foundation fund has grown by $20 million from $100 million since the Liberal government formed in 2003.
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