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.

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June’s Crew Member of the Month

 

Meet Erin Heeney, June’s Crew Member of the month!

Erin has been an RCMSAR 12 member for 1.8 years. In this short time, she has gained 557 total hours of volunteer service, which includes 117 hours of sea time. In the fall, Erin attended and was successful at SARNAV 1 and also received her SVOP (Small Vessel Operator Proficiency) certification. She has also completed her MED A3, Flood and Swiftwater Awareness Course and is a certified Pleasure Craft Safety Checker.

This past year, Erin was a co training officer for Station 12 – ensuring that training was top notch, covering all of the lessons to assist new crew to get out on the water and become the best they can be!

Erin’s hard work, dedication, bubbly attitude, knowledge of SAR operations and boat handling skills has paid off – she will be heading to RHIOT (Rigid Hull Inflatable Operator Training) school in February in Bamfield, ready to crush it, as she always does! Bravo Zulu, Erin!

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.

Crew Member of the Month, May 2017

Meet Janis Franklin, May’s Crew Member of the month!

Janis has been an RCMSAR 12 member for 2.5 years! In that time, she’s gained almost 400 hours total volunteer time, which includes 134 hours of sea time and has been on 10 SAR missions.

Janis is a dedicated member of our station and always goes above and beyond to ensure that any task completed is done well and with a huge smile! She also is our resident photographer, always making us look our best!

Thanks for everything that you do Janis, Bravo Zulu!

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

Search & Rescue Dispatches March 14, 2017

jane macdonald sarSunshine Coast Search and Rescue volunteers actively ‘stand on guard for thee’. The month of February saw crew members snowshoeing, practicing rope rescue techniques, swimming, testing gear, heaving throw lines, refreshing First Aid skills and learning how to respond to potential overdose situations. Ground and marine crews met in both indoor and outdoor classrooms to practice necessary search skills and to review effective crew communication and tasking drills. Keeping our land and waters ‘glorious and (event) free’ is a calling heeded by our local volunteers who willingly step into situations where many fear to tread.

On land, Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue was tasked in an urban setting and assisted RCMP in locating a missing male in the Gibsons area. SAR crew practiced several rescue drills on Dakota Ridge, employing local area navigation with the help of our dedicated search team volunteers and two of our greatest tools of the trade—UTV (Utility Task Vehicle) and Echo, our very own Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue canine. The unit is planning to renovate its meeting and secure storage space at John Hind-Smith Hall on Solar Road in Wilson Creek.  Also this month, the SCSAR crew honours the retirement of a respected search manager, Jim Janke, who will be greatly missed.

sar search

Robert Allen photo

For marine preparedness, crew members from Station 14 (Gibsons), Station 12 (Halfmoon Bay) and Station 61 (Pender Harbour) have been busy with Critical Incident Stress recognition and management training, First Responder first aid certification and Emergency Operations Essentials with Sunshine Coast Regional District.  New recruits have been on several check rides and are joining active crew on call rotations.

From Gibsons to Pender Harbour, four distinct Search and Rescue units comprised of 120 active crew and over 50 supporting volunteers standing guard over the Sunshine Coast’s trails and shoreline.  Each unit raises funds for meeting spaces, gear, training courses, rescue equipment, special vehicles or 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 sunshinecoastsar.ca
or rcmsar12.org.

Search & Rescue Dispatches February 15, 2017

SAR teams continue to practice for all weather conditions

jane macdonald sarThese challenging days of snow and icy winter are no match for the spirit and energy of Search and Rescue volunteers, who continue to spend their time upgrading personal skills and technical knowledge. For these teams, a life-affirming antidote to cabin fever and media overload is found in the active application of compassion, teamwork and service to one’s local community. Local SAR volunteers, across land and sea, are bound by a personal commitment to community service and a love of the Sunshine Coast’s natural beauty and marine wonders.

SAR teams continue to practice for all weather conditions. A day-long practice session was held at Dakota Ridge on Jan. 8 during which snowmobile, snowshoes and the UTV were all put to the test. The unit’s search dog and rope rescue team also took the opportunity to work in the deep snow. On the community front, one of our SAR members made a presentation on what we do to the local Pathfinders group at their “Be Prepared” Camp at Sarah Wray Hall in Irvine’s Landing on Jan. 22. SAR continues to hone its map and compass skills with indoor classroom learning complemented by outside practical skills – in the dark.

On the waterfront, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue volunteers work on refining their understanding of Aides to Navigation, Collision Regulations and First Aid practice and drills.  At the end of February, members of Station 12 will be hitting the pool at the Sechelt Aquatic Centre to ensure everyone is comfortable in their gear and in multiple water-based scenarios.

Winter’s long nights provide time for reflection on the importance of training and preparedness, ensuring the safety of our crew and vessels.  On March 2, British Columbia’s Search and Rescue volunteers will unveil a memorial to our fallen at the grounds of the BC Legislative Buildings.  It is with great and enduring sorrow that we recognize the names of two RCMSAR Station 12 members who will be inscribed on the memorial: Angie Nemeth and Beatrice Sorensen. Proud team members whose contribution and commitment will never be forgotten. The monument will be located near similar memorials for BC’s police, fire and ambulance personnel. It will honour marine, air and ground SAR volunteers who gave their lives in the line of duty and serve as a permanent reminder of the contribution of SAR.

February 2017 Compass Newsletter

Read the latest information  news, taskings, events and photos.

FEBRUARY 2017 WHAT’S INSIDE:

• Bravo Zulu – Kitkatla crew wins prestigious award
• Training with our CCG partner
• Crewmember of the month – Dugal Purdie
• A new boat for Saanich
• Rescue Roundups
• CEO’s Perspective: An update from Pat
plus much more!

Download the February 2017 Compass Newsletter