Aux­il­iary saves lives

Cana­dian Coast Guard Aux­il­iary trains boaters to help oth­ers

Cape Breton Post - - News - Gor­don Samp­son From the North­side Gor­don Samp­son founded the North Syd­ney His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety on Jan­uary 7, 1980, and se­lected the li­brary as the cen­ten­nial project out of 10 pos­si­ble projects in 1985. He was an ed­u­ca­tor and ad­min­is­tra­tor for 38 years, th

How close are Cana­dian Coast Guard Aux­il­iary vol­un­teers to you, the reader? What qual­i­fi­ca­tions do they have, and do they save lives? Would you like to be­come one?

Darcy Henn is the Re­gional Busi­ness Train­ing Man­ager, CGA Mar­itime lo­cated in Burn­side In­dus­trial Park, Hal­i­fax), while Richard Her­ring is Zone 8 di­rec­tor of the zone we live in. I con­tacted them, as well as Brian LeBlanc, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cana­dian Coast Guard Col­lege (CCGC) to learn more.

Richard lives in Big Har­bour where I went to learn more about this. He re­called three dif­fer­ent in­ci­dents.

“An el­derly man from New­found­land bounced his way from New­found­land to St. Peter’s and was res­cued at least four times. Fi­nally, the CCGA took him off his boat at St. Peter’s.”

Richard con­tin­ued telling his sto­ries.

“On the way from St. Peter’s, a fella went aground near Maskell’s Har­bour. While the CCGA was tak­ing him to Bad­deck (leav­ing the boat where it was), a call came from Cana­dian Bor­der Ser­vices who had been track­ing him all along and wanted to check him out. Turns out he en­tered Canada il­le­gally and was taken by them for ques­tion­ing.”

Fi­nally, a diver, a very good friend of all those on search and res­cue, took a heart at­tack while div­ing; later they found his re­mains near where he en­tered the wa­ter north east of the Seal Is­land Bridge.

And talk­ing about the Seal Is­land Bridge, the CCGA some­times gets calls about peo­ple jumping off the bridge.

There are five re­gional non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions and one na­tional non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion in the Cana­dian Coast Guard Aux­il­iary (CCGA). There are more than 4,000 vol­un­teers and 1,100 ves­sels. We be­long to the CCGA Mar­itime.

Our zone, Zone 8, which has 63 mem­bers and 41 ves­sels, cov­ers the re­gion from Cape North to Glace Bay in­clud­ing the Bras d’Or Lake. Ninety-five per cent of the vol­un­teers are fish­ers while boaters on the Bras d’Or Lake usu­ally own plea­sure craft. All their boats are pri­vately owned, and there­fore can only be iden­ti­fied by their CCGA flag.

There are eight ves­sels in North Syd­ney, two in Syd­ney (since the Royal Yacht Club was moved), and Syd­ney Mines is cov­ered by ves­sels from North Syd­ney or Syd­ney. There are six in Glace Bay, two in Ge­orges River, seven in Alder Point, and so forth. The zone goes on to cover English­town, Lit­tle River, In­go­nish, Neil’s Har­bour, South Cove/Bay St. Lawrence, Bad­deck, Bras d’Or, Big Har­bour, Boularderie, Ot­tawa Brook, Dingwall, and three mem­bers at the yacht club in St. Peter’s.

Zone 6 takes care of the west side of the is­land, while Zone 9 goes from Glace Bay to L’Ar­doise, Isle Madame, and Louis­bourg to Port Hawkes­bury.

When there is trou­ble, a call is sent to 911, who then con­tacts the Joint Res­cue Co-or­di­na­tion Cen­tre in Hal­i­fax; they han­dle calls on the east coast of Nova Sco­tia, Labrador, New­found­land and Mag­dalen Is­lands.

When needed, they co­op­er­ate with a Coast Guard Search and Res­cue he­li­copter, part of 413 Squadron, in Green­wood.

They also work with ground search and res­cue, lo­cal fire de­part­ments, and some­times with the RCMP.

Res­cue vol­un­teers are highly ex­pe­ri­enced boaters or nav­i­ga­tors who com­bine their pas­sion for boat­ing with their de­sire to help oth­ers; they are fa­mil­iar with their ves­sel, and know nav­i­ga­tion and ra­dio.

Be­cause of their vol­un­tary work, more than 200 lives are saved ev­ery year in Canada. They re­spond to 25 per cent of the aver­age 6,000 marine search and res­cue ac­ci­dents per year.

To be­come a vol­un­teer, you must be a skilled nav­i­ga­tor with a plea­sure craft op­er­a­tor cer­tifi­cate. Then you must con­tact the near­est CCGA re­gional of­fice.

Vol­un­teers are not paid for their ser­vices; they are only re­im­bursed for out-of-pocket ex­penses, such as travel, meals, fuel, and so on.

Re­cently, about 12 boaters took a Res­cue Boat Masters Course for nav­i­ga­ble wa­ters (wa­ters which are buoyed) at the Cana­dian Coast Guard Col­lege. They were in­tro­duced to res­cue boat train­ing, how the CCGA came into be­ing (it first started in 1978), and how they work with the Joint Res­cue Co­or­di­na­tion Cen­tre (JRCC). This ses­sion lasted one week­end.

Then in Oc­to­ber they will take a fol­low-up train­ing ex­er­cise at the CCGC for all 16 zones in the Mar­itimes and the Mag­dalen Is­lands. Some­times this course is put on else­where, de­pend­ing on where the ma­jor­ity of boaters come from.

Richard worked with Everett An­drews from North Syd­ney, for­merly the Zone 8 di­rec­tor who car­ried out ma­jor res­cue ex­er­cises. Richard was his al­ter­nate. When Everett passed away, Richard took over. He also said that Alex Gilchrist from North Syd­ney was their train­ing in­struc­tor.

So there are many will­ing boaters who love the wa­ters while sav­ing lives at the same time.


Richard Her­ring, Zone 8 di­rec­tor, Cana­dian Coast Guard Aux­il­iary, is shown in uni­form in his liv­ing room in Big Har­bour.

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