Shuswap lifeboat crew sees busy first year

The first weekend tested the skills of the crews assigned to Shuswap Lifeboat One, the marine SAR boat outfitted for the task

The volunteer crew aboard Shuswap Lifeboat One attend one of the numerous emergency call-outs on Shuswap Lake received over the summer by Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Shuswap Station #106.

The newest and first inland marine search and rescue station, based in Sicamous, was one of the busiest of 48 stations in B.C. this past season.

Formally known as the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (Pacific), the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) Shuswap Station #106 began operations on the May long weekend after extensive training in marine search and rescue  techniques from December 2011 to May 2012 on the Shuswap, and at training facilities located near Victoria.

The first weekend tested the skills of the crews assigned to Shuswap Lifeboat One, the marine SAR boat outfitted for the task. After that it, was all out, resulting in 44 successful missions between the May and September long weekends. Everything from searching for missing/overdue boats, to broken bones and strokes, says station leader Rob Sutherland.

The Shuswap station crew also had the opportunity to work with the land-based Shuswap Search and Rescue unit, located in Salmon Arm, when two vacationers fell into a gorge at Albas Falls, located on Seymour Arm. One was killed and the other, who tried to save him, broke both of his legs. Sutherland says co-ordination between the two SAR units, as well as the BCAS helicopter crew who evacuated the injured man, was intense and well executed – “proof that training was the key to the mission’s success.”

Sutherland says all of last season’s missions are being reviewed for opportunities to learn and improve. And, based in part on those missions, a winter training program has been developed to further enhance the skill and knowledge of the Shuswap station’s 24 members.

“They have shown a lot of dedication and skill since we began last December,” says Sutherland. “All of us are volunteers and it takes a commitment from everyone to produce the results we had over the summer.” That commitment was recognized at the annual general meeting of RCM-SAR held in Richmond, B.C. in September. RCM-SAR president Jim Lee presented the Shuswap station with a plaque for “Outstanding Achievement & Dedication to Saving Lives on the Water In their First Year of Operation.”

Sutherland accepted the plaque and was given the opportunity to explain why a marine SAR station was required on what is perceived by most as safe waters (inland lakes).

“The Shuswap and Mara lake systems are unique in that much of it is not accessible by road,” says Sutherland. “That, coupled with the thousands of house boaters and vacationers using the lake and marine parks presents a high risk of accidents. This was proven over this past season.

“Lives were saved and injuries tended to on the spot and some were transported to local hospitals.

“Our Marine SAR operations depend on donations and Sicamous businesses came though with their complete support. The plaque represents an achievement that, without support, could not have happened…” As with any organization that depends on donations to operate, explains Sutherland, the RCM-SAR Shuswap Station #106 future has a continuous task ahead of it. Ongoing effort will be put into recruitment of new volunteers, training and operations, upgrading and maintaining SAR equipment, and as a  long-term goal, planning for the replacing the society’s used 1976 Lifetimer rescue boat,  which is expected to cost up to $160,000.

“Annual operations costs will be upwards of $30,000 per year, and sustains the station with fuel, maintenance and repairs, repair and replacement of SAR equipment and moorage to mention a few,” says Sutherland. “Very generous donations from Sicamous businesses and BC Lottery gaming have started our station, and commitments have been made for our next season.

“But this is an operation that provides marine SAR for the whole of the Shuswap and Mara lake systems… and thus should be supported by all that use the lake, that have customers that use the lake, and communities that depend on the lake through vacationers and tourism.”

Those interested in saving lives and/or offering monetary support, or wanting further information, may call 250-836-2396 or 250-833-7677.

Submitted by Rob Sutherland, station leader of RCM-SAR Shuswap Station #106.


Just Posted

Vancouver artist rocks to fight opioid crisis

Jeremy Allingham is set to bring his guitar-focused rock ‘n roll to Kelowna April 6, Vernon June 9

Update: Driver of minivan suffers non life-threatening injuries

The accident took place at approximately 1 p.m.

Tracing their family tree

Sisters searching for Summerland connection

City warms to solar power

New Shuswap solar society receives enthusiastic response to alternative form of energy.

Armed robbers use fake police lights to pull over victims

Information wanted on North Shuswap robbery, police impersonation, burnt vehicle, motorhome theft.

Crook’s Corner

Arts and entertainment highlights this week across the Okanagan

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Lawyer for one suspect in beating of man with autism says he’s not guilty

Ronjot Singh Dhami will turn himself in, lawyer said

Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy

Christopher Wylie says his voter-profiling company collected private information from 50 million Facebook users

Kelowna celebrates World Down Syndrome Day

More than 50 people gathered in Kelowna to bring awareness to diversity and difference

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

UPDATE: Former B.C. city councillor sentenced nine months for sexual assault

Dave Murray, convicted this past fall, hired a private investigator to intrude on the victim’s life.

Shots fired in Kamloops

Kamloops RCMP are investigating a report of shots fired and a possible explosion at a trailer court

Online threat to U.S. high school traced to Canadian teen

A 14-year-old girl has been charged in connection with an online threat against a high school

Most Read