Bravo Zulu

RCN News - - Contents -

The As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner of the Cana­dian Coast Guard’s Western Re­gion, Rear-Ad­mi­ral (Re­tired) Roger Girouard, pre­sented a com­men­da­tion to Lead­ing Sea­man Philippe Mercier-Provencher, a Royal Cana­dian Navy (RCN) re­servist with HMCS Radis­son in Trois-Rivières, Que., on Septem­ber 8, 2015. He and the crew were rec­og­nized for com­ing to the aid of a fish­er­man in dis­tress more than 28 nau­ti­cal miles off Nootka Sound in Bri­tish Columbia. LS Mercier-Provencher was par­tic­i­pat­ing in the In­shore Res­cue Boat (IRB) pro­gram at the Nootka Sound Coast Guard sta­tion, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Cana­dian Coast Guard. The goal of the pro­gram is to teach rapid re­sponse to emer­gen­cies at sea. IRB units are crewed by RCN mem­bers and univer­sity sum­mer stu­dents, with a Coast Guard res­cue spe­cial­ist serv­ing as the sta­tion’s coxswain.

On Septem­ber 5, at about 10 p.m., a call came in to the marine search and res­cue co­or­di­na­tion cen­ter: a fish­ing ves­sel was in dis­tress off the B.C. coast. The Cale­do­nian, a com­mer­cial fish­ing ves­sel with four fish­er­men on board, had cap­sized. A search and res­cue air­craft was quickly dis­patched to the ves­sel’s last known po­si­tion, where the crew spot­ted a flare and a life-raft. As there was no other ves­sel near the site, LS Mercier-Provencher and two of his col­leagues re­sponded to the dis­tress call.

De­spite the dark­ness, the ad­verse weather con­di­tions and the rough sea, the team set out in a rigid-hulled in­flat­able boat (RHIB) in or­der to pro­vide as­sis­tance as quickly as pos­si­ble. “Un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances, we would never have gone out on the wa­ter. But there were lives at stake and we had to act,” said LS Mercier-Provencher.

Over a dis­tance of 28 nau­ti­cal miles, LS Mercier-Provencher and the team braved 1.4 me­tre waves and winds in ex­cess of 20 knots to reach the res­cue area. At about 1:30 a.m. on Septem­ber 6, they fi­nally spot­ted the life raft, which was full of wa­ter. Only one of the four fish­er­men was aboard. LS Mercier-Provencher quickly put his train­ing to good use by as­sist­ing the fish­er­man, who was suf­fer­ing from hy­pother­mia. “Our train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence en­abled us to re­spond with­out fear and ad­min­is­ter first aid,” he said.

Their task was not over yet: the res­cue team then had to nav­i­gate skill­fully through a mass of float­ing de­bris be­fore trans­fer­ring the in­jured man to a nearby cruise ship, where a med­i­cal team took charge of his care. LS Mercier-- Provencher’s team then im­me­di­ately re­turned to the site of the wreck to look for other sur­vivors. None were found.

It was for this act of brav­ery that LS Mercier-Provencher and hs re­ceived the rec­om­men­da­tion of the As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner of the Cana­dian Coast Guard’s Western Re­gion. LS Mercier-Provencher was grate­ful for the honor and proud of his abil­ity to ap­ply the train­ing he had re­ceived in or­der to carry out his du­ties. Thanks to his ac­tions and those of his team, a man sur­vived and was re­united his fam­ily.

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