Nanaimo marine search and rescue group could use help

NANAIMO – Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 27 will kick off its annual fundraising campaign on Saturday (Nov. 16).

Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 27 will kick off its annual fundraising campaign on Saturday (Nov. 16).

Members of the search and rescue group will be at West Marine on Island Highway North for an event between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. making presentations and providing information on how people can volunteer.

“We’ve got a little remote control boat called Bobbie that is all operated remotely and has voice-activation in it,” said station administrator Gordie Robinson. “We use that to talk to kids at different presentations and we can talk to people about doing safety checks on their vessels.”

While the search and rescue group receives support from a variety of sources, including the province, the City of Nanaimo and the Regional District of Nanaimo, running the operation doesn’t come cheap, according to Robinson.

“Because we’re a volunteer organization and our costs for running the two boats and the boathouse are expensive, we need ongoing funding to keep that going – to put gas and diesel in the boats,” Robinson said. “It’s an ongoing campaign. We’re fundraising all year but the impetus of our big blast, and this is the start of it, is just to raise awareness of what we do and what our organization is.”

The search and rescue group takes care of raising boating safety awareness and search and rescue operations from Nanoose Bay to the north of Ladysmith and halfway across the Salish Sea to Vancouver, Robinson said. It requires more than volunteer jobs and intense training, he added.

“Our volunteers have to go through a very stringent training process so that they understand how to use all the electronics and know all the safety procedures of running a high-speed rescue craft and know the dangers of hypothermia and have to be trained in first aid,” he said.

Volunteers take on-call shifts and calls can come at any time – the station is considered one of the busiest on the Pacific coast, dealing with an estimated 75 emergencies a year.

“You never know when the pager is going to go off,” Robinson said.

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