As his time as the leader of the Sicamous Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) was nearing an end Rob Sutherland received a decoration for his leadership.
Sutherland was presented the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Merit – Leadership Medal in recognition for his leadership assisting to establish and making operationally ready RCMSAR Station 106-Shuswap, at the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue annual general meeting held at Canadian Forces Base – Albert Head on Sept. 22.
The award recognizing his leadership came shortly before Sutherland announced Fred Banham would be replacing him as station leader in early December.
“I would like to thank you all for the support you have given me and our RCMSAR Station 106 Shuswap over the years while I was the Station Leader. Had it not been for that support our Station would not be where it is today and lives would be impacted and/or lost. I look forward to continue serving our Station as the Station Training Officer, Coxswain and as a Director of the Shuswap Lifeboat Society,” Sutherland wrote in a submission to the Eagle Valley News.
Sutherland’s nomination for the CCGA Leadership Medal identified his outstanding leadership in leading Station 106-Shuswap to an operational mission ready state from May 2012 through current 2018 as well as being a significant administrative contributor to planning, fundraising and managing RCMSAR Station 106-Shuswap through its infancy and growth.
Sutherland joined RCMSAR Station 106-Shuswap in January 2012, offering his intimate knowledge of Shuswap Lake as a commercial mariner, to a fledgling RCMSAR station that was just taking possession of it’s first rescue vessel, ‘Shuswap Rescue One’, a 29’, 1989, Lifeliner which arrived in Sicamous on April 18, 2012.
Sutherland was appointed Station Leader for RCMSAR Station 106-Shuswap and was responsible for establishing and training mission-ready crews in time for the boating season on Shuswap Lake in the summer of 2012.
The station’s crews actioned some 50 missions in that first summer, proving the need for a marine search and rescue operation to be stationed on the inland waters of Shuswap Lake.
“Station 106 is rather unique to the RCMSAR model where a large portion of mission callouts are related to people health emergencies and works very closely with BC Ambulance Service and other land-based first responders,” Banham said.
Sutherland is also Station 106’s community activity leader in supporting and delivering water safety on our lakes. His initiatives include a very successful ‘Kid’s Don’t Float’ program that combines a lake front personal flotation device sharing program at 12 locations with annual spring school visitations annually presenting to over 400 Grade 3 and 4 students in the Shuswap.
Under Sutherland’s direction, RCMSAR volunteers were visible at First Responder fairs, Shuswap Air Shows, Fall Fairs, mall presentations, the Canada Day fireworks, the floating concerts at the narrows and the antique boat show, to name a few.
Station 106 is just one of 33 western RCMSAR stations and is BC’s only inland marine search and rescue station. It provides 24-7-365 search and rescue, lifesaving and emergency medical transport on Shuswap and Mara lakes where ground access is not feasible.
According to Banham, Station 106- averages 40 rescue mission calls per year proving, consistently, to be one of the top five busiest RCMSAR stations in BC. They respond to remote cabins, houseboats and pleasure craft incidents.
“RCMSAR Station 106 currently has 22 volunteer members and is always looking for more individuals that can be tasked to head out on the lake at anytime of the day or night to provide search and rescue services,” Banham said.