Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue

Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue

June 05, 2013 12:00 ET

B.C. Search and Rescue Crews to Provide Free On-Water Safety Checks

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - June 5, 2013) - Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue crews will be coming alongside hundreds of British Columbia boaters this summer, but there will be no emergency. Instead, boat operators will be offered a free safety check under a new program supported by Transport Canada.

"We're doing something new this boating season. While we've always had boating safety programs on shore, this year we will be using our search and rescue crews and vessels to offer safety checks for boats that are away from the dock and out on the water," said Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) president Jim Lee. "It's a great opportunity for us 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 2013 Vessel Safety Survey program will receive $150,000 from 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 have been called out on more than 690 missions to assist people on the water.

"Transport Canada is pleased to support Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue in its efforts to get out on the water and reach out to recreational boaters with important safety information," said the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities. "These free safety checks will help pleasure craft operators make sure their boats are safe and, most importantly, help ensure they and their families make it safely back to shore."

RCM-SAR will target areas with high volumes of recreational boat traffic such as the Lower Mainland, Gulf Islands, and southern Vancouver Island. There are 46 RCM-SAR stations in British Columbia. The all-volunteer RCM-SAR crews provide 24/7 marine search and rescue coverage with a fleet that ranges from rigid hull inflatable boats to the new Falkins class jet boats.

"We're excited about this program because it puts us in closer contact with the boaters we serve and will reduce the likelihood of people needing our search and rescue services to get them out of danger," said RCM-SAR president Lee. "It also allows us to spend more time on the water in addition to our regular training. That means we may be even closer at hand should an emergency arise."

The Vessel Safety Survey program will begin on June 9, 2013 and continue until January 31, 2014. For more information, go to www.rcmsar.com.

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