LETTER: Offshore emergency calls should be to *16

I wanted to pass on some information that might be valuable to your readers with respect to the tragic incidents at North Beach. Off-shore rescues on navigable waters within Canada are a federal responsibility.

While Fire Departments are best trained and equipped for onshore rescues, few are equipped for offshore work.

In the case of the waters off of Prince Edward County, from Wellers Bay to Nicholson Island, that responsibility falls to a group of volunteers working as part of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, based out of the Brighton Bay Street Marina, in Gosport.  On the Sunday in question, we received a callout from the National Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC), in Trenton, to respond to a swimmer missing off of North Beach.  The crew was assembled and prepared to launch within 13 minutes of receiving the call, when we were told to stand down, as the swimmer had been found.

Our hearts go out to the families that lost loved ones in the tragic incidents. When someone drifts offshore and can’t get back, or a vessel of any type is in distress, the number to call is *16 on your cell phone.  This call will connect you directly with JRCC, who will dispatch the most appropriate rescue resources to the scene whether they are police, fire, military rescue aircraft, or coast guard.  On many boats you also have the option of calling for help on channel 16 of your VHF radio.

Our rescue unit is a provincial not-for-profit corporation, registered as a federal charity. Unfortunately, we receive zero funding from these levels of government to purchase or maintain our rescue vessel, or the emergency equipment essential for these operations.  This all must be financed by donations from private individuals, or grants  from other sources.

In the past, we have received a small grant from the Municipality of Brighton ($1000/year) to help support our operations and this year for the first time, we have requested some financial support from PEC, in return for our coverage of the waters off of this portion of PEC shoreline.  This past year, our all volunteer team worked tirelessly to raise enough money to buy a used rescue vessel that had been repurposed as a construction crew boat.

We thank all of the generous donors who made this purchase possible. This, new to us, class A rescue vessel will go into service next week, once we complete the conversion back to a rescue standard.  It will provide a tremendous improvement in our capabilities, allowing us to reach North Beach, or anywhere else in our 1500 sq km area of coverage, in any weather, in half the time that was possible with our old rescue vessel.  As you can appreciate when a person ends up in the sometimes frigid waters of Lake Ontario, time is of the essence.

We are continuing to fundraise for the remaining $62,000 needed to fully equip this important rescue asset for our community.

Please visit usat www.brightonmarinerescue.ca  Donations can be made on our Go Fund Me campaign at https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/new-rescue-boat  Charitable tax receipts will be issued.  Brighton Auxiliary Rescue Unit, we are literally: Powered by Volunteers and Fueled by Donations

Rob Tucker

Chair

Brighton Auxiliary Rescue Unit