Nova Scotia’s volunteer search-and-rescue groups say they may be forced to withdraw emergency services if they can’t get better insurance protection.

The Nova Scotia Ground Search and Rescue Association said in a release yesterday that volunteer searchers need good liability insurance to protect themselves, and they’re asking the provincial government for assistance.

At an association meeting on Sunday, directors of 24 provincial teams voted to give notice they will withhold services if their concerns aren’t resolved by the province in two weeks.

Tony Rodgers, a spokesman for the provincial association, said the searchers did not make the decision lightly as they realize that the work they do could save lives.

However, he said the search teams are worried they could be personally liable if they fail to locate a missing person.

“There’s always that opportunity for somebody to say that we mishandled a search and to try to sue us,” he said. “We don’t have any protection for that.”

He said liability insurance could cost as little as $30,000, though he wasn’t certain of the precise cost.

“It’s a drop in the bucket from government, as far as we’re concerned,” he said.

Ramona Jennex, the minister responsible for the Emergency Management Office, said she believes the government can address the groups’ concerns.

“Definitely we’ll be having a discussion and staff will be providing options,” she said.