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Coquitlam Search and Rescue surpasses record-year of marine calls, urge safety on the water

The volunteer organization is in need of a saviour itself in appealing to the public for a new home for its marine rescue boat.

A Coquitlam volunteer group has endured extra busy spring and summer seasons when it comes to helping people in need on the water.

Coquitlam Search and Rescue (CoqSAR) says it set a brand new record for marine rescue calls in responding to 50 calls across the Tri-Cities as of Tuesday (July 27) for the first seven months of 2021.

That’s five more than 2020’s to-date task total of 45.

According to CoqSAR president Tom Zajac, the new number is double the organization’s 10-year average of calls received by the end of July.

“A marine rescue could be providing assistance to boaters in need. An example could be canoers in trouble in Widgeon Slough or overturned boaters,” he explained in an interview with the Tri-City News.

Zajac added about 20% of CoqSAR’s tasks consist of a marine component, which include the use of its rescue boat.

“A marine search involves looking for a subject that could be missing in waterways. Our boat is also critical to provide logistics support to ground Search operations. For example, transporting search teams to the North end of Pitt Lake. One of the key advantages of our new boat is that it is the only enclosed cabin that can keep subjects and searchers warm.”

As the summer is expected to bring in more potential water rescues, CoqSAR says it's in need of a rescue as well.

The marine boat is without a secure, dry storage space as its regular spot — Town Centre Fire Hall — has no more room.

“Unfortunately, we store a number of our vehicles outside and we have set that equipment up to be safe and ready to respond,” Zajac said.

“However, the boat with delicate electronics and motors is harder to keep maintained and in a rescue-ready state in rain or freezing conditions.”

CoqSAR has set a deadline of Aug. 16 for those interested in helping them out to send their storage space suggestion, which Zajac said provides thegroup with time to find a solution before the fall.

In the meantime, he urges residents planning to go out on the water before the end of summer to take every safety precaution necessary in avoiding potential life-threatening scenarios.

“Safety around water is particularly important in summer months. Every year, SAR teams respond to preventable drownings. Please visit AdventureSmart website for more backcountry safety tips.”

In terms of storage space, CoqSAR is looking for a unit that meets the following criteria:

  • Space: 365 Square Feet
  • Space Height: 14 feet
  • Space Width: 14 feet
  • Space Length: 26 feet
  • Access: We would need to have 24×7 secure entry as our calls occur at any time
  • Secure: Due to all the electronics and safety gear, we would need a secured area

For more information, you can visit Coquitlam Search and Rescue’s website.


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