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Some days job harder than others

The adrenaline starts when the phone rings and you see the caller ID. A little rush that subsides slightly while waiting for the tasking details. Often, the rush is over as quickly as it began. The emergency has been resolved, and we are stood down. Other times, the adrenaline sticks with you throughout the tasking, helping you work through challenging situations, spiking along with the many other hormones our bodies release when exposed to stress. As volunteer SAR members, stress and exposure to critical incidents are realities of the job. Some days that job is harder than others, and sadly some search and rescue missions become search and recovery missions.
On Feb. 8, the crew of RCMSAR Station 12 were tasked in the search for a missing person in Porpoise Bay along with land SAR, the RCMP, and the Cormorant helicopter from 442 Squadron. The adrenaline takes a back seat as your focus becomes intense, scouring every inch of water in front of you, every nook in the shoreline looking for clues. After over four hours of searching, our crew noticed the Cormorant hovering near Poise Island. The adrenaline spikes as we learn that they had located the missing person. It builds as we approach the scene. We ground ourselves through our training to be able to perform the task to come. We do our risk assessments, plan, and proceed using the skills we have practiced countless times. Just after 3pm, our crew recovered the body of Mr. Peter Koch and returned him to shore, our hearts heavy and hands
At the dock, another set of crew were ready to take over. Removing active crew from a scene as soon as possible is an important step in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). Activating CISM is integral to ensuring that our crew members are supported as they process the physiological and emotional outcomes of a critical incident such as this; a process that can last days or weeks depending on the individual. We are incredibly grateful to our comrades at the Sechelt Fire Department who facilitated the initial diffusing for the crew members involved in this search. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
This incident has highlighted some of the risks of living on the water, including access to safety equipment such as lifejackets or PFDs (personal floatation devices). RCMSAR Station 12 is fundraising to create free PFD loaner stations at marinas and boat launches throughout our service area as well as providing free PFDs to anyone in need. If you would like more information on this program or to donate, email us at or leave us a note at our red boathouse at the Porpoise Bay government wharf.

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