Search & Rescue Dispatches January 2018

As the new year begins and resolutions are tested, here are 10 essential Items (from North Shore SAR) for ensuring your safety during winter adventures and outdoor treks. Always tell a reliable person where you are going and when you expect to be back, leave a detailed trip itinerary and make sure you know your route.

 

1. Light 

Flashlight or a headlamp with extra batteries (and light bulb if not LED). Green cyalume stick or small turtle lights as emergency backup. The lack of light is the single most common cause of over-due hiker calls for SAR.

2. Signalling Device 

Whistle (we recommend the Fox 40 whistle with a lanyard), Bear Bangers, Pencil Flare. Why a whistle? It is ideal for signalling for help as your voice will become very hoarse in a short period of time especially if you are dehydrated. We recommend the Fox 40 whistle because it works very well in wet conditions and has good range.

Search and Rescue crews make lists, as seen here, but hikers and boaters should also make lists of what they need in case things go wrong. Mark Wenn photo

3. Fire Starter

Matches (water proof or in plastic bag) or lighter. We also recommend a commercial firestarter and/or a candle. Commercial firestarters can be purchased at outdoor or hardware stores.

4. Extra clothes

Hat, gloves or mittens, fleece jacket, Gortex jacket, polypro underwear, good quality hiking socks and Gortex over-pants.

5. Pocket knife 

Although a multi tool is preferred, a good pocket knife with a quality blade will suffice. It may also be worth carrying a small pruning saw for cutting branches when building a shelter or fire.

6. Shelter

Large orange plastic bag and thermal tarp. Why a large orange plastic bag? It’s actually one of the most valuable items on the list. Crawling into the bag helps keep you warm and dry. The orange colour is also highly visible and helps attract attention, particularly from the air.

7. Water 

(Gatorade crystals recommended) and food (high energy food bars) We recommend you drink between 1-2 litres of water before you hike and carry 1-2 litres. Hydration is directly proportional to your performance but also in maintaining essential fluid balance in your body. We also recommend you carry electrolyte, such as Gatorade, in order to replenished salt and potassium that are depleted during excessive exercise

8. First-aid kit

Should include pocket mask, Sam Splint, bulk dressings, protective gloves, bandage, scissors and blister dressings

9. Navigation

Good quality compass with built in declination adjustment and both topographical and interpretive maps. We also recommend a GPS unit but only as an adjunct to compass and map. Most team members carry a Garmin 60 series GPS unit that has terrific reception in the trees.

10. Cell phone

We recommend you bring a cell phone with a fully charged battery. It is advisable to keep the phone turned off, and stored in a ziplock bag. This way, if you get into trouble your phone will be dry and have a full charge. Many people manage to call 911 initially but their phone dies before their location can be relayed, not a desirable situation.

Remember, electronics can fail, run out of batteries, or lose their signal. Telling someone where you are going, leaving a trip itinerary and bringing the essentials is critical to a safe outdoor excursion.

Search & Rescue Dispatches, July 2017

jane macdonald sar

When pagers sounded on Sunday evening (July 9) at 11:22 p.m. RCM SAR Station 12 members were notified of a Code 2 (Pan Pan call for help) for our inside vessel located at Porpoise Bay. No matter the hour, a Coxswain and two crew members responded to a campsite at Nine Mile Point where two separate groups of campers requested emergency evacuation due to an aggressive cougar who was stalking them.

Normally an idyllic campsite, the seasoned kayakers and experienced outdoor enthusiasts grew increasingly nervous after sunset when an agitated cougar appeared and would not retreat after several attempts to scare it away.  With young children in one of the camping parties, the responsible adults called for help and elected to give nature its space.  All supplies and camp materials were left for retrieval the next day due to the proximity of the angry feline, which can be a formidable hunter.

The visibly shaken and nervous campers experienced difficulty contacting water taxi or animal control assistance, due to the time of night and spotty cell phone reception.  A call came to Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, likely via 911 emergency call referral, which relayed the emergency location and situation to our local volunteer crew in Porpoise Bay. After boarding six adults and three children on RCM SAR’s swift response vessel and ensuring everyone had lifejackets, the crew transported the upset campers to safety for the remainder of the evening.

A number of sheepish apologies for calling were offered by the campers; there is no need to ever apologize for needing help, as that is why the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue exists.  Saving lives on the water and helping to prevent accidents is what the crews of volunteers train for all year.  The Sunshine Coast has three volunteer-staffed Marine Search and Rescue stations which respond to boater (including kayak and stand up paddleboard) emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days per week; Station 14 in Gibsons, Station 12 in Halfmoon Bay / Porpoise Bay and Station 61 in Pender Harbour.

All marine campers and boaters are encouraged to travel with a functioning VHF radio, where Channel 16 should be used to convey emergencies.  If coverage is available, distressed boaters can call *16 on mobile phones to call for help.  RCM-SAR will respond, no matter the hour or situation without judgment or penalty; it is what we do.

Search & Rescue Dispatches May 2017

 

jane macdonald sar

It is May 2017. Spring is upon us.  For many of us, thoughts now turn to the upcoming boating season.  This means cleanup of the boat, de-grunge the slippery decks, air out the inside, change the engine oil and filters, and general maintenance of the boat and equipment.  Next, maybe, a haul-out to clean and paint the bottom, replace the zincs, and check the props.  This a good time of year for these rituals.

It is also a good time to check the safety gear, such as the life-jackets, fire extinguishers, flares, running lights, bilge pumps, anchors, radios and all the other important safety equipment, and to review the response procedures with your family and crew members.  A basic reference document is Transport Canada’s “Safe Boating Guide”. It is available on line at www.boatingsafety.gc.ca .

RCM SAR Station 12 provides search and rescue capability to the central Sunshine Coast with our two boats – one in Secret Cove and one in Porpoise Bay. In addition, and in the interest of safe boating, we also provide a complimentary safety check service.  We have eight members of Station 12 who are trained to carry out safety checks on pleasure boats up to 24 metres in length.  It is roughly a 40-point check list. It is free and entirely voluntary.  A safety check takes about an hour. The result of a safety check is a written report to you, the owner. The RCM SAR report looks a lot like the 50-point safety check on your car when you have it serviced, with all the mandatory requirements checked (Yes or No) and recommendations for corrections or improvements. Boats that check Yes for all the requirements also receive a sticker that demonstrates compliance.

Why is this important? First, recreational boats in BC are required by law to meet certain safety requirements. Owners of boats can be fined by the law enforcement agencies (RCMP, Coast Guard, Transport Canada, etc) if the boat is not in compliance.

Second, concerns your boat insurance. While insurers may not actually give a discount in premiums for boats certified to meet mandatory safety requirements, they do look favourably on those owners who have the up to date safety check.  It is also reassuring for the owner to know that if you did have an accident and a claim, a record of a passed safety check could be important.

Third, is your own peace of mind.  Boating in BC waters, for most of the time is pretty benign. But weather can turn bad, fast, and mechanical problems can arise unexpectedly. It is good to know that you have covered the bases to protect your boat, your family and friends boating with you.

How can you arrange for a RCM SAR safety check?  Join us at Secret Cove Marina on Sunday, June 4, 9am-2pm for a private Pleasure Craft Safety Check. Please phone 605-885-7456 to book an appointment or email us at info@rcmsar12.org.

Sunday School April 23, 2017

Helping save lives on the water!

The smell of outboard fills the air as the 2017 boating season begins.

Station 12’s members want to remind you to check your safety gear for out of date items. Such as dead batteries, replenishment needs or refills etc. Make sure you have a life jacket or PFD for every person on board. Enough fuel to get to your destination and back (with some in reserve) is always a great idea. Look for us on the water to receive your free Vessel Safety Survey and safety kit. Or contact info@rcmsar12.org if you would like to book a full Pleasure Craft Safety Check.

A VHF radio is a great addition to your boating experience. With today’s models being smaller and less expensive they are easy for anyone to carry. If you are having an emergency on the water use channel 16 on the VHF, or dial *16 on your mobile.

Play safe and have fun!

Footage courtesy of Bart Borebski