A routine weekly training session turned into a dramatic rescue on Wednesday night for the Ladner-based Royal Canadian Marine Search Rescue (RCMSAR) Station 8 Delta.
The “Charlie” or “C” crew and the Spirit of Delta V was out on the Fraser River around 9:15 p.m. when a MayDay call came in for a 39-foot fishing vessel on fire and the operator in the water near Steveston. RCM SAR 8 immediately responded to Victoria Coast Guard Radio (VCGR) letting them know they were about 10 minutes away from the scene.
“When they got there, the vessel was really engulfed in flames, quite extensively, and they saw a man in the water about 100 feet away from the vessel. He didn’t have a lifejacket on but was holding onto one of the boat fenders,” explained RCMSAR Station 8 Delta Leader Rob Gibson. “They classified him as moderately hypothermic, but that can go down quickly. The river is fairly cold this time of year because of the runoff.”
The boater was taken to Steveston Harbor where he was transferred to hospital by BC Ambulance Services. The vessel continued on in flames and ended up aground off Shady Island where the Steveston Harbour Authority team put out the fire.
“Most of our rescue tasking is with boats that break down or boats that hit rocks and are in a sinking position, not as quite as dramatic (being on fire). We’re not firefighters,” added Gibson. “We are more concerned with the life and limb of people.”
Featuring four volunteer crews, RCMSAR Station 8 Delta is temporarily stationed out of Ladner Harbour during COVID-19 and is providing support to RCMSAR Station 10 in Richmond.
Once the pandemic is over, RCMSAR Station 8 Delta will move back to its usual location in Point Roberts, providing access to waters it usually responds to.
-With files from Richmond News