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THE QUEBEC REGION BULLETIN
APRIL - MAY 2009/VOLUME 12/NUMBER 2
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VOLUNTEERS SAVING LIVES AT SEA…
FOR OVER 30 YEARS
Ships

The volunteer marine rescuers of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA) take part in hundreds of search and rescue missions every year, thereby saving many lives. In addition, CCGA puts a tremendous effort into promoting safety on the water.  

In 1978, CCGA was created by the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) to provide Canada with a marine rescue service composed of volunteers. Given the immense size of the water bodies and the length of the Canadian coastline, CCG employees were unable to cover all areas on their own. Today, CCGA has about 5,000 volunteers in Canada – 700 in Québec – grouped into 55 units. They have 130 search and rescue vessels at their disposal, most of them owned by individuals.

The Quebec region territory is vast: it encompasses the waterways of the St. Lawrence River and its main tributaries from the Ontario border to the limits of Labrador, including Chaleur Bay and part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The CCGA mission is to save 100% of the lives in danger on the water and keep material losses to a minimum. For many years, the volunteer CCGA marine rescue crews have conducted over 30% of all search and rescue missions at sea. In Canada, they have participated in over 38,000 missions and saved more than 4,000 lives. Moreover, they have invested thousands of hours in prevention, paying courtesy visits to pleasure craft and small fishing vessels.

BECOMING A VOLUNTEER

Volunteer auxiliarists are recruited on the basis of highly precise criteria that take into account their experience, knowledge, aptitude for team work and availability. They must have completed a recognized first aid course and hold a restricted radio operator’s certificate. In addition, they have to take part in training to become more efficient in search and rescue operations, and in prevention.

Search and rescue requirements call for equipment that is well adapted to conditions at sea and able to withstand harsh weather conditions. Moreover, when recruiting new members, CCGA looks for people with sound knowledge of navigation and who have adequate and well equipped vessels, like fishing boats or other similar ships. North Shore and Gaspé Peninsula fishers who are interested in becoming volunteer rescuers can obtain more information by calling 1-877-746-4385 or by visiting our Web site at www.ccga-gcac.org.


Louis Arsenault
Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary