On average, the Comox Station receives 60 call outs per year. Photo by RCM-SAR member Chris Beech, Media.

On average, the Comox Station receives 60 call outs per year. Photo by RCM-SAR member Chris Beech, Media.

BOATING WITH BARB: Victoria JRCC and RCM-SAR Station 60 Comox work together to save lives

Barb Thomson

Special to The Record

Just imagine you wander down to the Comox Marina to look at the boats.

Foremost are two official-looking red and yellow powerboats.

What exactly are you looking at?

These boats are in part the result of the brilliant multi-level National Search and Rescue (SAR) organization that links the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). Here’s the brief: if you need help, an alphabet is coming to get you.

Water is coming into your boat and the engine has failed. Who figures out how to rescue you? It’s easy. Somebody neatly divided Canada into SAR three regions and established one Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in each: Victoria, Trenton, and Halifax. The Victoria JRCC covers the entire province and coastline of British Columbia and the Yukon to the Beaufort Sea. I recently spoke with a Victoria JRCC SAR co-ordinator, who described their office as a large room with one window. From which they can see about one-third of Canada. Victoria JRCC would like boaters in distress to know:

• How to call us: *16 or #727 or 1-800-567-5111

• Where are you?

• How can we call you back?

• RCM-SAR Station 60 Comox does “a huge amount for us.”

Roch Massicotte is the Station 60 Leader. He described Cape Lazo and Paul Giles (those red and yellow boats) as “a local asset” and part of “a very good relationship” with Victoria JRCC.

“Time is crucial if you have a person in the water with average temperature of 12 degrees Celsius,” said Massicotte. “In those cases, JRCC will deploy all assets available for maximum coverage of the area of the lost person.”

Those assets include air and sea. On average, the Comox Station receives 60 call outs per year, although last year, 20 calls less. Those numbers are reduced by a year of COVID-19, and numbers hardly near what is given by the volunteers who keep the boats ready to go.

Massicotte would like local boaters to know: “If you suspect a person or vessel to be in danger, do not hesitate to call on channel 16 VHF Radio, the Canadian Coast Guard or 9-1-1.”

A delay could make the risk to rescue worse.

“It is much easier to cancel a call if the situation is resolved.”

JRCC Victoria: https://bit.ly/2KuDO2q

RCM-SAR Station 60 Comox: unit60comox.ca/

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