This summer, boaters on Shuswap Lake may be approached by an emergency vessel, though this won’t necessarily mean there’s an emergency.
Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue crews based in Sicamous will be coming alongside local boaters offering a free safety check under a new program supported by Transport Canada.
“We’re doing something new this boating season,” says Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) president Jim Lee. “While we’ve always promoted boating safety with shore-based programs, this year our search and rescue crews will offer safety checks for pleasure craft that are away from the dock and out on the water.
“Our search and rescue crews on Shuswap and Mara will have even more opportunity to connect with the boating public, help boaters ensure they have all the safety gear they need and promote what we call search and rescue prevention.”
The Vessel Safety Survey Program is strictly voluntary and will be provided as a courtesy to boaters who request it. Crews will approach vessels and offer to check items such as personal flotation devices, signalling devices, fire extinguishers, bailers, radar reflectors, navigation charts and other items.
RCM-SAR crews are search-and-rescue specialists and do not provide enforcement.
The RCM-SAR 2013 Vessel Safety Survey program will receive $150,000 through Transport Canada’s Boating Safety Contribution Program, which promotes safe boating practices by pleasure craft operators and aims to reduce deaths and injuries from boating accidents. There were more than 560 boating-related deaths in British Columbia between 1991 and 2008. During the past year, RCM-SAR crews were called out on more than 690 missions to assist people on the water in British Columbia. In 2012 on the Shuswap there were 44 calls alone and so far in 2013 we have had 19 incidents including one death.
“This will be a great way for us to make contact with boaters on the water and help them make sure their vessels are safe,” said Station 106 RCM-SAR station leader Rob Sutherland. “The waters in our area can be dangerous, and these safety surveys will reduce the likelihood of people needing us to rescue them. It also allows us to spend more time on the water in addition to our regular training. The more we are out there, the quicker we can respond in an emergency.”