Volunteers with the Shuswap’s Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 106 have been training, and getting vaccinated, in preparation for the 2021 boating season. (Contributed)

Volunteers with the Shuswap’s Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 106 have been training, and getting vaccinated, in preparation for the 2021 boating season. (Contributed)

Shuswap’s marine rescue crew reaches milestone, prepares for summer

Hundreds rescued or provided assistance since 2012

Reflecting on its operations since the Sicamous-based Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 106 started in 2012, Rob Sutherland realized he’d missed a milestone.

According to the station leader, in January 2021 the Shuswap’s on-water rescue crew had completed 300 missions totalling 1,882.5 hours. After that, Sutherland delved into other statistics of importance to Station 106.

Among them: RCMSAR volunteers, with BC Health Services personnel, saved 376 people, while volunteers assisted 200 people; 72 per cent of RCMSAR missions were medical rescues due to boating accidents, falls and slips; RCMSAR volunteers contributed 26,731.59 person hours to the Shuswap communities, completed 299 classroom sessions and 731 training exercises, and completed 1,444 activities (from oil changes to boating safety displays and school sessions) totalling 4,245.8 hours. Sutherland added most missions occurred during the weekend between the hours of 7 and 8 p.m., and 2 to 9 p.m. during August.

With COVID-19 restrictions limiting gatherings and, therefore, training opportunities, RCMSAR volunteers have been busy this year with training to get up to speed on certification. Since December 2020, the number of Station #106’s 22 volunteers with up-to-date certification has risen from seven to 20.

“We have run the following critical courses this past spring to ensure our Marine SAR capability, with all members successfully completing them,” commented Sutherland.

Station 106’s fast response craft, the Tolonen, is also undergoing an upgrade. It will be getting a new advanced radar and chart plotter package which Sutherland said will “enhance our high speed response at night and in restricted visibility.”

The public will benefit from the addition of three new Kids Don’t Float PFD loaner kiosks, this year – two in Enderby along the river and one at Shannon Beach near Eagle Bay. This brings the number of kiosks in the region to 18.

Sutherland said fundraising efforts continue for a boathouse facility that would house Station 106’s vessels below with training facilities upstairs. The current plan is to build the boathouse over three phases instead of one.

“We are obviously looking for alternate donors and grant opportunities,” said Sutherland.

Another way Station 106 members have prepared for the summer boating season was by getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

“All Station 106 members are relieved to have received their first shot of the vaccine knowing that this summer we will be in close contact with casualties,” said Sutherland, who expects most volunteers will have had their second dose by late June/early July.

Search and RescueShuswap Lake