It's 3am and there is a medical emergency onboard a vessel south of Victoria. Making slow progress towards Victoria in heavy seas, the ship's captain issues a distress call. Seconds later, the volunteer crewmembers of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) Station 35 Victoria are awakened by their pagers. The crewmembers gather at the Ogden Point station and are underway in the rescue vessel "Tolonen," minutes after receiving the call. Once on scene, Station 35's crewmembers board the vessel to attend to the patient. After quickly packing the patient, Station 35's crew transfer the patient to the Tolonen. With the patient onboard, the Tolonen's navigator sets a course for Esquimalt to transfer the patient to an awaiting ambulance. The Tolonen returns to base after the patient is safely transferred.
It's 6am and the volunteer crewmembers of Station 35 return to their normal lives. They are teachers and students, carpenters and business people, husbands and wives. Most importantly, they are ordinary community members who, when asked, do the extraordinary. They are called away at a moment's notice and often make the sacrifice of missing family dinners and birthday parties. Why? Our volunteers do it all selflessly to help people in need – people they have never met and will likely never meet again.
Station 35 Victoria is one of 46 RCM-SAR stations across the coast. RCM-SAR's core values include saving 100% of lives at risk, reducing the number and severity of SAR incidents and promoting water safety. In addition to being a volunteer station, RCM-SAR Station 35 Victoria also depends on donations and grants to help those in need. If you would like to support Station 35 Victoria, its volunteers and the values of RCM-SAR, please visit www.vmrs.org to volunteer or donate. Find more information about Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue on their regional site, www.rcmsar.com, which includes an overview and map of all stations in the area.
Jeremy Christensen is an accomplished SAR crewmember and Station Leader for Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 35. He also served with the Coast Guard's Inshore Rescue Boat Service last summer.