The seasonal Search and Rescue program will run between May to September. ( File photo/Canadian Coast Guard)

The seasonal Search and Rescue program will run between May to September. ( File photo/Canadian Coast Guard)

North Vancouver Island Coast Guard Inshore Rescue Program ready to relaunch

Teams have protocols in place to ensure COVID-19 safety while providing marine safety net

An important marine lifline along Vancouver Island’s north coast is poised to return in time for the May long weekend.

The Canadian Coast Guard’s Inshore Rescue Boat Program will be back in the area starting May 22.

Between May 22 and Sept. 7, the coast guard will be operating its inshore rescue boat program, with seasonal search and rescue stations set up in Kelsey Bay for Sayward, Friendly Cove for Nootka Sound and Cortes Bay on Cortes Island.

“With the current COVID-19 situation, we know that people are concerned with visitors in their area, so we want to let you know ahead of time that we are taking the necessary precautions to keep your community safe,” reads a letter from the coast guard.

RELATED: Vancouver Island to get new Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue Station in Tahsis

The Coast Guard will be working toward the safety of everyone, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while members are in the area. The three personnel of each station will undergo a health screening prior to arrival and screened daily while on site. They will be in self-contained accommodation, do their own cooking and be physically distant from the community.

Also, any on-water training will take place with strict protocols. The teams also have quarantine protocols in case anyone gets ill while on site, including isolation for the infected person and any of their close contacts.

“Our top priority is to ensure the safety of our personnel, and the people in the communities we serve,” reads the letter.

The Inshore Rescue Boat Program started in the 1970s and responds to calls for mariners in distress or in need of assistance. They also provide public education on boating safety. There are four stations on the coast, with the fourth located in Sointula.

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marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

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