With enviable access to the ocean for fishing, paddling and all other water activities, residents of the Sunshine Coast know firsthand the importance of water safety.
This is why the Gibsons Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (SAR) 14 is so focussed on safe aquatic practices, including through the volunteer organization’s Kids Don’t Float program. The program ensures that personal flotation devices (PFDs) are publicly available throughout the community so that families with children can borrow them for free and feel confident near the water.
“Year-round we provide three different sizes of PFDs which are all adjustable. It provides safety on the water for everyone,” says David Croal, station leader, Gibsons SAR 14.
The station has operated the Kids Don’t Float program since 2003 with minimal outside funding. A recent $5,000 donation from TELUS will now allow it to expand and reach more people in need.
The investment is part of a $20,000 donation by TELUS in the Gibsons SAR this year.
Critically, the tech company has also invested $15,000 to upgrade navigation equipment aboard the SAR 14’s rescue vessel, including improved sonar capacity and data display from linked equipment such as GPS, radar, and instruments.
The sophisticated Raymarine visual navigation technology allows the crew to move in zero visibility fog, providing rescue capabilities that wouldn’t otherwise be possible in emergency scenarios, and ensuring Gibson SAR 14 is first on scene and able to support local emergency responders.
According to Croal, the upgrade “is critical material, particularly at night. The navigation system was new when we got it six years ago, but it wears out and purchasing new gear wasn’t something we expected to need so soon.
“The TELUS investment was a godsend,” he says of the support.
Safe out on the water
Along with direct water safety investments, TELUS has expanded its lightning-fast fibre-optic network to much of the GHLA, where Gibsons SAR 14 is located.
That work includes the deployment of the TELUS PureFibre network along the length of the GHLA dock and the addition of a new fibre network access terminal within the GHLA building. The result is lightning-fast connectivity, improved reliability and near-endless data capacity to the GHLA, SAR, two businesses located on site, and boaters who use the marina.
For Gibsons SAR 14, fibre connectivity enables vastly improved wi-fi and enables crews to easily update new Raymarine navigation technology and keep search-and-rescue capacity in top shape.
“The new Raymarine system is wi-fi compatible, meaning upgrades will now happen automatically. No more downloading software updates on a hotspot,” says Croal.
TELUS also offers a cell-phone plan and home wi-fi discount to the Gibsons SAR 14 volunteers, allowing them to keep in touch wherever they may be so that they can continue to serve the Gibson community.
Local boater Brock Seabloom, who often takes his young children out sailing, says the investments in water safety are invaluable to families like his own. In particular, he is thankful for the Kids Don’t Float program.
“I have five kids and they all wear different sizes – not to mention that they’re constantly outgrowing things. Having the PFDs available at all times means your family will always be safe out on the water, including if you have friends joining you onboard,” he says.
“It’s even more important for tourists who are visiting the marina with their kids. They wouldn’t be safely equipped otherwise.”
For more information on the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue on the Sunshine Coast, and how you can volunteer, please visit www.scrd.ca/RCM-SAR.