Station 37 Sooke
Station 50
Station 20 Salish Seas
Stationt 14 Gibsons
March 19th, 2008
March 19th, 2008

Coast Guard Auxiliary get together for training exercises

Auxiliary members return from a successful rescue.  Shawn Thomas photo
Auxiliary members return from a successful rescue. Shawn Thomas photo
Approximately 40 members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary from across the North Coast made their way to Prince Rupert last weekend for a series of search and rescue exercises that put their skills and knowledge to the test in practical, real world scenarios.

Exercises during the weekend included charting and navigation, attending to a fishing vessel that was reportedly taking on water and searching the water and shore for a victim following the reported sinking of a vessel. In each case the teams, whose members were made of people from Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Port Simpson, Masset, Sandspit, Queen Charlotte, Kitkatla, Stewart and Ocean Falls, were given a briefing similar to that they would receive by calling into the emergency centre in Victoria.

“Itīs really an evaluation to make sure that everyone is on the same page and everyone is operating safely. Nobody fails, but itīs a chance for us to make sure that everyone is doing it properly,” said Coast guard Auxiliary Pacific president Bruce Falkins, who was on hand to witness the exercises.

“It is important for all of the communities to come together and work together, particularly here on the North Coast because the distance between crews is so great. In the south the different groups come across each other quite frequently because the distance is so small, but thatīs not the case here...The Coast Guard canīt be in all locations, so if you find yourself in trouble in somewhere like Stewart it will be the Coast Guard Auxiliary that will be helping you.”

As well as checking the on-sea fundamentals of the group, they were also tested on their ability to analyze and treat a victim, as both the person on the boat and on the beach were just said to be “confused.” According to Falkins, this means those first on the scene have to determine if the person is concussed, poisoned, drunk or just greatly distressed.

And according to Falkins residents of the North Coast are in good hands based on what he saw during the exercises.

“Everyone here is a very capable mariner and is very enthusiastic about the job. I would say they are very quietly going on with the job and all that it entails without a lot of fanfare or any reward,” he said.

Shaun Thomas - The Northern View - March 18, 2008

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