The Kitimat Marine Rescue Society (KMRS) is on their way to reaching a fundraising goal for a new rescue boat.
Volunteers with KMRS have so far reached $380,000 in their quest to reach $600,000 for a new, enclosed vessel. That $380,000 includes a possible contribution by Kitimat Council. The request for funds was forwarded to their final budget deliberations set for next week.
The project director for the fundraising project, Duncan Peacock, said their existing rescue boat has been in service now for 11 years.
“Our current project is to replace the open vessel we’re currently running with a fully enclosed new vessel,” he said. The new boat would also add 10 feet, making it a 36 foot vessel.
Replacing their boat with an enclosed one will mean the crew and potential casualties will be better protected during missions.
Peacock said it’s difficult to bring back an injured or hypothermic patient back to land in cold weather.
“We’re all dressed for it with the vests we can wear as a crew, and even for us conditions are quite severe at times,” he said.
The longest mission to date for them, he said, was 14 hours.
As they cover the entire channel up to the inside passage, he said they could be 90 miles out from their home base.
“Depending on the weather conditions, you could be two, three hours away from getting back to home base.”
He said they are called out approximately 14 times a year.
A lot of their calls are split between people who are overdue for their return and with people who have broken down, a lot of times from colliding with a log or rock which is hidden under the water.
They’ve also been noticing a lot of calls lately from people who are not local to Kitimat.
“Over the past couple of years we’ve been getting a lot of calls from people who are visitors to the community,” adding that many are from Alberta. He doesn’t say that to look down on those from Alberta, but to highlight the dangers for people not accustomed to the area.
“This is still a remote area,” he said, with thousands of miles of shoreline before another community.
Even VHF radio, which he said is really the only way to call out for help, can be spotty with the channel’s mountainous terrain.
Meanwhile the group is always looking for volunteers and Peacock said people can call him at home with questions about the group, at 250-632-4195.
With fundraising for their new vessel going on for about a year and a half now, they’re hoping their on their way to meeting their goal.
“[The boat’s] for the community. It’s a big investment for the safety of the community,” he said.