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Shuswap’s marine search and rescue crew looks back on busy, successful 10th year

New rescue base under construction and volunteer training to make for an exciting 2023
Shuswap Search and Rescue station 106 volunteers attended fitness testing among a host of other training courses in 2022. Looking ahead, the station hopes to see completion of its new rescue boathouse and further volunteer training. (Rob Sutherland/ photo)

The Shuswap’s marine search and rescue crew had a full year in 2022, and is looking ahead to the hopeful completion of some big projects and staff training initiatives in the coming year.

Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) Station 106 leader Rob Sutherland said volunteer driven community organization had an active and exciting year celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The station completed 20 missions in 2022 and, based on a total of 1562 volunteer hours, was one of the busiest stations in RCMSAR’s southern area.

The station has 28 volunteers who helped BC Emergency Health Services save five lives, and provided additional first aid to nine other people.

Seven new life rings were installed around the Shuswap and the new two-bay boathouse and readying room was started in 2022. The station hopes to move operations into the new boathouse this year, by the May long weekend.

READ MORE: Pieces come together for future Shuswap marine rescue boathouse

The station sought funding for the rescue base/boathouse project in 2021, and received $250,000 in January of last year. In March, design plans were formed and construction drawings finalized in April. In May, Bruce Weicker, president of the Shuswap Lifeboat Society, oversaw a ground-breaking ceremony in the welding bay of Twin Anchors Manufacturing, where the rescue base is being built. Sutherland performed a symbolic first weld on an aluminum frame that will eventually display the details of the base and when it was commissioned. Finally, on Sept. 30 2022, the construction agreement was signed and the first cheque was paid to TA Structures.

This year so far, three out of four pontoons are welded together creating the base of the boathouse and floors and walls will be next to take shape.

One member from the Shuswap station has been certified as a coxswain leadership instructor, having taken the course at the RCMSAR training headquarters in Sooke, B.C. He is now one of only 10 instructors in the province.

The volunteers and staff took part in 103 on-water exercises, which totalled 299 hours. There were 58 lectures held, and 918 hours logged towards preventative activities like boating safety displays, maintenance, boating and water safety school programs, life ring stations and “Kids Don’t Float” lifejacket/PFD kiosks.

Nine members completed an introduction to oil spills course with the Canadian Coast Guard and BCEHS paramedics learned about evacuating casualties from houseboats with the station’s assistance.

In 2023, more Station 106 members will attend the coxswain leadership instructor course, and small vessel operator, marine emergency level 3, restricted operator, standard first aid and CPR, transportation enforcement, high-speed radar navigation and jet drive vessel operator certification courses will be completed.

The station has asked for funding to hire two summer students to help with boating safety checks, school programs, vessel and life ring kiosks and website maintenance.

Sutherland said the station hopes to install four more life rings around Shuswap and Mara lakes, provide at least three boating safety demonstrations over boating season and visit schools’ second and third grade classes with water safety briefings using Bobby the Safety Boat.

Station 106 Shuswap has no paid positions and all donations go to training and equipment to better prevent accidents and save lives, said Sutherland.

READ MORE: Shuswap search team rescues snow biker stuck down deep drainage


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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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