Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) Station 65 on Lax Kw’alaams receives necessary upgrades to its equipment from the Community Investment Fund financed by the Port of Prince Rupert. (Submitted photo)

Search and rescue equipment on Lax Kw’alaams receives critical upgrades

First Community Investment Fund from the Port of Prince Rupert announced in 2019

Out-of-date equipment for the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) Station 65, based on Lax Kw’alaams, was in desperate need of upgrades.

In what was the first Community Investment Fund announcement for 2019, the Port of Prince Rupert contributed $55,345 to the Lax Kw’alaams Rescue Society, and the community celebrated the support on Friday, May 17.

“The Rescue Society’s key focus is to ensure that we’re ready to respond to any given situation that comes our way – this project helps us do that,” said James Henry Sr. of the Lax Kw’alaams Rescue Society, in the press release.

“We look forward to a continued relationship with the Port Authority to enhance safety preparedness in our waters.”

READ MORE: Lax Kw’alaams receives largest community investment from the port to date

With the funding from the Community Investment Fund, the Rescue Society was able to upgrade the engines and electronic equipment, which will enable a faster incident response time, and will handle more complicated rescues that may occur. The society used the funding to purchase and install radar and communication equipment, and general boat handling, emergency response equipment and forward-looking infrared search equipment, stated the press release.

“It is our pleasure to partner with dedicated volunteer organizations like the Lax Kw’alaams Rescue Society to support vital community projects that contribute directly to marine safety,” said Shaun Stevenson, president and CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

“We consider this an excellent example of how our organization can ensure that the port’s success is shared through projects that enable long-term benefits for community members on the North Coast.”

The Lax Kw’alaams search and rescue team has 22 members, who receive calls for vessels in distress out in the Hecate Strait. They also work with teams based in Prince Rupert and Gitxaala in the south, and they respond as far north as Kincolith.

READ MORE: Fisherman trapped under water rescued near Smith Island

Station 65 is one of 33 volunteer RCM-SAR organizations in the province. There are more than 1,000 volunteer search and rescue crews who are on call to respond to marine search and rescue emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In 2018, RCM-SAR stations spent 994 hours on search and rescue missions, and each year they typically respond to 800 rescues, according to the press release.

This is the Port of Prince Rupert’s first Community Investment Fund announcement for 2019. Since 2010, more than $9.2 million dollars have been committed to the fund, which is financed by a share of the port authority’s annual net income, benefiting more than 60 community projects in the region.

Shannon Lough | Editor
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