Six RCMSAR stations recently took part in an on-water mass rescue operations training exercise jointly managed by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Coast Guard with coordination at the provincial level provided by Emergency Management BC.
On October 25, a simulated fire took place onboard BC Ferries MV Coastal Renaissance in Trincomali Channel off Salt Spring Island, forcing the evacuation of over 1,300 people. The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria tasked all nearby assets to assist, and RCMSAR provided on-water response with vessels from six stations: Brentwood Bay, Gulf Islands, Ladysmith, Mill Bay, Pender Island and Saanich. Other first responder groups included the Canadian Coast Guard, the US Coast Guard, RCMP, Transport Canada and Royal Canadian Air Force.
After the MV Coastal Renaissance deployed their inflatable slides and passengers evacuated to life rafts, rescue crews transferred them to waiting ground crews on Salt Spring Island. First responders from BC Emergency Health Services, local fire rescue, local ground SAR and many other groups coordinated triage and support for the evacuees.
The exercise continued on October 26, focusing on environmental response, coordinated by the Canadian Coast Guard and the BC Ministry of Environment as well as local and Indigenous government representatives.
This exercise served as an excellent opportunity for multiple agencies to work together in a maritime emergency scenario and practice a coordinated response.
“Careful preparation and practice ensure first responders are ready to spring into action when emergencies arise,” said the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “These exercises build and strengthen the working relationships that are essential to effectively coordinate with partners to quickly and effectively deploy resources to support Canadians when disaster strikes.”
Did you know?
- This two day exercise involves approximately 500 people from more than 20 government and non-governmental organizations – including local Indigenous peoples from several Coastal First Nations.
- A total of 15 vessels and four aircraft were employed.
- Canadian Coast Guard personnel joined this exercise from both Central & Atlantic Canada, while personnel from both the United States Coast Guard and the Korean Coast Guard also attended.