And just like that, BOOM, the season explodes…
As all of us adapt to a “new norm”, our reality as we knew it, seems so distant. Yet at the core, at least from a search and rescue perspective, nothing has changed. We continue to be a mix of volunteers dedicated to safely bringing home those who might find themselves in trouble out on the water. Sure, we have new processes and protocols in place but when the call comes, we head out as we have done for over 50 years.
That said, it has been a topsy-turvy start to the 2020 season. Our regular Annual General Meeting (AGM), normally held at FBYC in April was done virtually in June. An event where we celebrate the past and look forward to the future, while tinged with a fog of uncertainty ran smoothly and without incident. One of the highlights of the event was a chance to celebrate our 2019 crew members with the handing out of our yearly awards:
- 2019 Rookie of the Year – Michael Galita (“Mikey”) for his work not only on social media but also his spearheading our new “brand” campaign
- 2019 Above and Beyond – Adam Chan for his work on developing our road map for navigational solutions as we look to the future.
Without a doubt the start of June has been quite evolutionary. A solid new protocol for dealing with Covid-19, a focused / methodical launch, and a clear direction for CCGA, has resulted in a more streamlined response to possible incidents out on the water. For now, gone are the days of regular weeknight and weekend patrols and our weekly crew training nights. In our current phase of the lock down, we have re-juggled our approach to taskings with the establishment of two isolated weekly emergency crews (crew A and crew B) in order to respond to call outs.
In the first couple of weeks the results have been interesting. From 15 callouts all year in 2019, we have already had 7 in 2020. The first group including 6 stand downs (4 before leaving dock) might initially indicate an over-reaction but in reality, represent the “forceful impact” of response to someone in need. No one takes that responsibility lightly and a casual call out will often result in a number of resources engaged to help. After all, one never knows when “routine” might turn disastrous so better to be safe than to later have regrets. We, along with all our SAR partners care and will do what it takes to help those in need. That is a given…
Our one complete call went off without a hitch. All involved were returned to shore within an hour. it was for a family who on a blow-up dinghy had drifted out onto the lake. Not an uncommon occurrence as wind and water can turn a seemingly fun paddle on the river into a more precarious struggle to get back to land. Once launched, it was a simple matter of collecting the family and bringing them safely to shore. An activity which involved EMS, Pickering Fire, and Durham Regional Police went down like clockwork.
For those heading out, please be sure you are fully prepared. Always wear your life-jacket or personal flotation device (PFD), know the weather and water conditions, carry a Marine VHF or at least a smartphone and be sure to have extra clothing. Once out on the water, when in doubt call for help, the sooner we know, the sooner we can help.
Its June 14th and we are evolving into our emergency crew rhythm. The crews are “in sync” with the new processes crystallizing into routine with every call out. The members are now settling into the rhythm of these temporary new roles. It sure has been a hectic start to the season with 7 taskings but so far all have been managed. The next step is to get all our members out on the water and back to a familiar flow of what we might have, until recently, called normal routine. Let’s hope we can quickly, and safely, make the next step soon to include training and some regular patrols.
Until then, we continue to wait for the familiar ring of a call out.