British Columbia

'People get in trouble every day': No holiday break for search and rescue centre

Emergency responders across the province are spending the holidays on shift rather than at home with family, including staff at the Pacific Region Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

Pacific Region Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre watches over 27,000 kilometres of B.C. coastline

Capt. Dave Mansi of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Esquimalt says emergencies don't take a break over the holidays. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Emergency responders across the province are spending the holidays on shift rather than at home with family, including staff at the Pacific Region Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

The rescue centre, located at CFB Esquimalt on Vancouver Island, is one of three rescue co-ordination centres in the country.

It is fully staffed by Coast Guard and Canadian Forces personnel every day of the year, including Christmas.

"People get in trouble every day of the year and the holidays don't indicate any slowdown for us," said Capt. Dave Mansi.

Thousands of rescues each year

The rescue centre is responsible for co-ordinating aeronautical and maritime search and rescue operations.

"Most of them are related to the marine industry and pleasure craft," Mansi said.

The centre watches over 27,000 kilometres of B.C. coastline, nearly a million square kilometres of largely mountainous terrain and 600 nautical miles of ocean.

Last year, it dealt with more than 3,500 rescue situations.

"We can get calls from people who see something in distress, vessels themselves that are in distress ... aircraft, if somebody crashes," Mansi said.

Staff at the JRCC need to know every inch of the B.C. coastline. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

'We call them all times of day and night'

Three to four staff members work on continuous shifts to ensure someone is always available to co-ordinate the launch of search and rescue boats and aircraft.

"We have resources up and down the coast," Mansi said."We call them all times of day and night."

Dylan Carter, a maritime rescue co-ordinator at the centre, will spend Christmas Day at his desk.

"I have a little one, but we will have Christmas on Boxing Day, so it's not so bad," he said.

While the rescue centre will be staffed and ready to respond, Mansi said everyone can have a safer holiday season by thinking about proper equipment and filing route plans before heading out on their adventures.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Megan Thomas

Reporter

Megan Thomas is a reporter for CBC in Victoria, B.C. She covers stories from around Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. Follow her on Twitter @meganTcbc.

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