Search &Rescue Dispatches, July 2018

SAR: Preparation and precaution essential to staying safe this summer

SAR: Preparation and precaution essential to staying safe this summer

As members of the Search and Rescue Community, our hearts go out to the families of the young adults who tragically lost their lives at Shannon Falls near Squamish this past week. The volunteer teams from Squamish Search and Rescue, Squamish fire and the RCMP who attempted the rescue, and ultimately performed the recovery, are equally in our thoughts. Closer to home, our own Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue team worked alongside first responders to assist at the tragic plane crash in Selma Park. Our deeply felt sympathy and support goes out to the family and loved ones of those involved. As we learn at Search and Rescue on a regular basis, accidents are by nature unpredictable.

With the excitement that the outset of summer brings, may we remember as well to make every preparation, and take every precaution possible. As we are forced to learn, each year it seems, accidents happen so very quickly. It is for this reason that we prepare, plan and inform friends of our intended path before we take to the ocean, lakes and mountains of our beautiful coast.  As survivors, we owe it to the fallen to maintain a vigilant and compassionate watch over one another.

It will surprise few that the vast majority of water related fatalities occur during the summer months; incidents of drowning occur most commonly when British Columbians are swimming, fishing or power-boating. The Community Against Preventable Injuries is partnering on a safe boating campaign with Transport Canada, the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit and the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR), in an effort to significantly reduce the number of serious preventable injuries – including drowning – by challenging the notion that injuries just “happen” but they “won’t happen to me”.

Here are a few tips worth following:

• Wear a Personal Flotation Device/Lifejacket: No one “expects” to fall overboard – hence the vast majority of boaters who drowned in 2016 were not wearing a lifejacket or were wearing it incorrectly.

• Alcohol consumption: Drinking and boating don’t mix – over 40 per cent of victims had consumed alcohol prior to the incident.

• Have the right equipment: Make sure it is in good working condition and accessible, and know how to use it.

“No one expects to fall overboard when enjoying a day out on the water,” says Pat Quealey, CEO of RCMSAR. “Too often we rescue people who have fallen into the water without wearing a lifejacket. Having the right equipment and wearing a lifejacket can save lives.”

The safe boating campaign is part of a three-year project. To learn more about preventable injuries, visit www.preventable.ca. To learn more about RCMSAR, visit www.rcmsar.com.

Crew Highlight of the Month, April 2018

Crew Highlight of the Month

April 2018

Erin Heeney

Erin during one of her training runs. Photo credit: John Maddalozzo

Please join us in celebrating our crew highlight of the month who has been with RCMSAR Station 12 for almost 3 years.

Erin’s Achievements:

  • 2018-03-21 RHIOT
  • 2017-11-18 RCMSAR Annual Fitness Testing
  • 2017-06-10 MED A3
  • 2017-06-08 TC Medical
  • 2017-02-26 First Responder
  • 2016-11-01 SVOP
  • 2016-11-01 SARnav-1
  • 2016-06-25 Flood and Swiftwater Hazard Awareness Course
  • 2016-04-27 PCSC Checker
  • 2015-11-24 ROC-M
  • 2015-11-22 FA Marine Basic
  • 1999-12-06 PCOC
Her Journey:

Since joining our team Erin has managed to volunteer over 1000 hours of service. She has recently completed the Rigid Hull Inflatable Operators Training with the Canadian Coast Guard in Bamfield newly promoting her into a Coxswain position at Station 12.

Erin began her journey with Station 12 almost 3 years ago where she quickly found her passion in team building and training others. Erin is happiest when passing on her love of the Collision Regulations. She has kept our training program on track for 2 years, always innovating and developing new strategies. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious and Station 12 is grateful to have her on the team.

Life Outside RCMSAR:

Erin can be found jogging through the woods, fishing in Porpoise Bay for Dungeness crab or generally enjoying everything the Sunshine Coast has to offer. She is an avid sailor and traveler, a free spirit who is always searching for new ways to improve herself. In her professional life Erin works for Praxis Performance Group as their Program Facilitator.

 

 

Search and Rescue Dispatches March 2018

SAR Prepares for the Season

 

From Gibsons to Pender Harbour, four distinct Search and Rescue units comprised of 120 active crew members and over 50 supporting volunteers stand guard over the trails and shoreline, ocean and inlets of the Sunshine Coast. Well trained, and well prepared for a wide range of emergency situations, these volunteer crews act as an outdoor adventurer’s last hope, when the best-laid plans go awry. To be prepared for any event, each unit raises funds for meeting spaces, gear, training courses, emergency equipment as well as rescue vehicles and vessels to fulfill rescue duties. Contributions from generous community members and grants from local foundations, government and service agencies allow volunteers to focus on skill development and proficiency.

Donations are greatly appreciated and are accepted online via  rcmsar12.org/donate or sunshinecoastsar.ca

Search and rescue vessels from Pender Harbour and Halfmoon Bay take part in a training exercise last month near the Earls Cove ferry terminal. Mark Wenn photo

Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue volunteers actively train and anticipate events that may entrap, trip or trick the unsuspecting trail or water enthusiast.

The month of February saw crew members refreshing their first aid skills, testing gear, pursuing safety certifications and practicing effective communications with other Coast resources. Ground and marine crews met in both indoor and outdoor classrooms to practice advanced search skills and to review crew communication and tasking drills.

For marine preparedness, crew members from Station 14 (Gibsons), Station 12 (Halfmoon Bay) and Station 61 (Pender Harbour) have been busy with first responder first aid certification, emergency operations essentials with Sunshine Coast Regional District, navigation, local area familiarity as well as radar and chart plotter electronic tool literacy.  New recruits have been on several check rides and are joining active crew on call rotations.

An impressive on-water training rendezvous was facilitated in February with three of the four RCMSAR vessels on the Sunshine Coast. Two crews from Station 12 and one from Station 61 mustered near Earls Cove ferry terminal where towing, pacing, boarding, first aid scenarios and search pattern exercises were practiced.  Developing skills and readiness, cross-Coast emergency response connections, crew familiarity and local area knowledge are top priorities for all Search and Rescue volunteers. On behalf of all four Coast crews, we thank you for your support, and wish you safe, and uneventful enjoyment of our great outdoors this spring.

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.

Winter training keeping SAR folks tuned up

On behalf of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Stations 12, 14 & 61, and our partners in safety and preparation, Sunshine Coast (Land) Search and Rescue, we extend the very best wishes of the season to all of our friends, generous donors and fellow outdoor adventurers. We also extend a gracious thank you to the Local for sharing our dispatches so generously throughout the year.

With winter upon us, our teams have been busy doing fog and foul-weather training on land and sea, with new recruits joining our crews and preparing for new challenges.

Sunshine Coast (Land) Search and Rescue recently hosted a year-end dinner and recognition night.  Members were recognized for their long-term volunteer commitment to search and rescue including the annual Top Pick award. Members also recently volunteered their time to help out the Elves Club in their annual drive.

SCSAR member Sue Duxbury is now trained to present “Adventure Smart”, a suite of five national prevention programs focused on reaching Canadians, and visitors to Canada, who participate in outdoor recreational activities.  All programs are free.

• Hug a tree and survive (kids)

• Paddlesmart (16- plus)

• Snow Safety (grade 4 and up)

• Survive Outside  (adults)

• Snowmobile Safety  (16- plus)

Please contact Sue 604-740-1687 or email: Landcruiser@dccnet.com

Search and Rescue members train in all kinds of weather, including, in this case, fog. John Maddalozzo, left, and Bart Porebski, are seen practising their rescue techniques in Porpoise Bay. Mark Wenn photo

Station 61 has officially kicked off its fundraising campaign with the intent to purchase a type 11 vessel.  Pender Harbour’s Rotary group has generously donated to the cause and a community education campaign was held at the John Henry’s Christmas Market.This summer’s group of new RCM SAR recruits have been training tirelessly and many have completed their Radio Operators Certificate Marine course, first aid and even RHIOT school for advanced crew in Bamfield.   All Stations have extremely enthusiastic and dedicated new recruits well on their way to becoming leaders in each station. We are pleased and honored by their level of commitment to our station and our SAR mandate.

Station 14 (Gibsons) participated in a multi-unit coordinated search for a missing boater and his vessel (eventually located in the Strait) and recently assisted and towed a disabled sailboat off Bonniebrook.  Join us for January 1st Polar Bear Swim at Armours Beach at 11am or at Davis Bay with the Lions Club & Station 12 (Halfmoon Bay). All members of the Coast are invited to enjoy hot chocolate, certificates for swimmers and prizes for best costume.

‘Tis the season of making lists, and checking them twice, and if ever there was a call to action that your SAR teams believe in, that is it.  As you plan your hiking, sledding, snowshoeing, back country skiing or boating this winter, please remember to make a route plan, share it with a friend or relative, and check your gear twice before heading out to enjoy our magnificent coast and coastal mountains. Play safe, and the very best of the season to all.

Burger and Beer Night Thank you!

THANK YOU to everyone who came out to our annual fundraiser! Your support allows us to continue to save lives on the water! If you missed the fundraiser, you can always donate to our volunteer organization at rcmsar12.org/donate We all are very lucky to live in such a supportive community.

October’s Crew Member of the Month

Tonya Ste. Marie

Please join us in congratulating our crew member of the month who has been with RCMSAR Station 12 for 4 years!

Tonya’s achievements:

  • 2017-10-18 Coxswain Leadership 1
  • 2017-04-26 Flood and Swiftwater Hazard Awareness Course
  • 2017-02-26 First Responder #62191734
  • 2017-02-25 PFD Competency Evaluation
  • 2017-02-18 CISM 100
  • 2017-01-22 SFA (CPR – C) #40108102
  • 2004-07-13 PCOC #200029558
  • 2003-05-01 ROC-M #023487STE
Her journey:

Tonya started her journey as a supporting member spending countless hours at events such as the Sechelt Night market and numerous fundraising en devours. She was an integral part of the fundraising team helping us promote boating safety as well as the RCMSAR brand. Her contagious smile, passion for the sea and willingness to help others always attracts a positive public response to our cause.

One year ago she became an active SAR team member quickly dominating our new crew, crew level and advanced crew training programs. She has since become lead with our social media program developing a series of boating safety videos that have been well received by our followers. Tonya has increased our online presence exponentially, her dedication displayed in every aspect of involvement with our station.

Recently she has completed the first ever Coxswain Leadership 1 course facilitated at our regional training facility in Sooke BC. Graduating with top marks she will be an excellent asset to the leadership team at Station 12.

Passions outside RCMSAR:

Tonya works for the Sunshine Coast Community Services as a youth care worker. She has deep roots in our community and an impressive commitment to helping young adults. Some of her spare time is spent teaching youth to sail at the YMCA camp Elphinstone in the summer months. Completing the return journey of the Victoria to Maui sailing race last summer she can usually be found racing in the many other competitions held on the Sailish Sea. The ocean courses through her veins, her free spirit, adventuresome attitude and maritime experience make her a natural leader. RCMSAR Station 12 is grateful for her commitment and involvement.

Beer and Burger Fundraiser 2017

2017 Beer and Burger Fundraiser

Join us for our annual Beer and Burger fundraiser at the Lighthouse Pub. All proceeds from the silent auction & 50/50 go to help save lives on the water!

The funds raised every year pay for crew safety gear, vessel equipment, first aid supplies, training courses and other essentials required to operate 2 dedicated rescue vessels 365 & 24/7. Your donations and participation are this event is greatly appreciated.

Help us help others.

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, June 2017

jane macdonald sarWhen a 40-foot powerboat began sinking on June 4, a sunny Sunday afternoon, seven people were rescued off the North side of Keats Island, Howe Sound.  RCMSAR Station 14 Gibsons and Station 1 West Vancouver, along with a Canadian Coast Guard vessel and crew from Kitsilano Base, were tasked by Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Victoria. With the additional help of a vessel of opportunity, all SAR teams worked closely together to ensure everyone made it safely home, and the boat got towed.

Calls for help on the water go to JRCC Victoria which coordinates and directs Search and Rescue Units (SRUs) within its area of responsibility. The centre serves as a communications hub and primary point of contact for the coordination and direction of rescue units and on-scene commanders in order to fulfill the mission in the safest and most effective manner possible.

Please remember to dial *16, #727 or call 1-800-567-5111 to report a marine emergency.

P 7 SAR rescue

Seven people were rescued when this boat began sinking off Keats Island on June 4. RSM SAR photo

The Sunshine Coast has three volunteer-staffed Marine Search and Rescue stations which respond to boater emergencies; Station 14 in Gibsons, Station 12 in Halfmoon Bay / Porpoise Bay and Station 61 in Pender Harbour.  To honour Canada’s 150th, RCMSAR crew will be escorting paddlers on July 1 as they traverse the length of Sechelt Inlet.

On land, Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue (SC SAR) is preparing for their AGM and reflecting on the past year’s 16 tasks involving 20 people in a variety of settings. A recent example was a task to assist at a motor vehicle accident where it was suspected the driver was missing; fortunately the driver was located. As we enter into peak season for enjoying the outdoors, SC SAR wishes to remind people of some basic safety precautions. Before heading in to the back country, leave a trip plan with someone, take ample food and water, bring a functioning, fully charged communication device and make sure you have proper gear, including first aid supplies.

Both Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue and Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue will be implementing new membership recruiting drives this September with training starting the first week of October. In late June a volunteer application form will be posted on the website at sunshinecoastsar.ca or visit rcmsar12.org for details.