Around 5:20pm yesterday, Sunday, 29 July, the 9-1-1 Communications Centre dispatched the RCIPS Air Operations Unit to a report of a wave runner in distress off North West Point. A member of the public had seen the wave runner drifting, but then had lost sight of it from land. Within ten minutes of their deployment, the helicopter crew had located the wave runner, which was drifting west, already two miles off the coast. When the rider heard the helicopter, he began waving his arms to get the crew’s attention. Two civilian wave runner riders were also en route to assist, and were directed to the precise location of the drifting wave runner by the helicopter crew. By 5:40pm, the broken-down wave runner was under tow, and the rider was taken safely back to shore.
Immediately following this, at 5:41PM, 9-1-1 Communications Centre received a call of six divers in difficulties off North West Point. The police helicopter was on scene within a minute from the previous incident nearby, and located all divers 200 yards off shore. They appeared to be caught in the current at that location and seemed exhausted. They waved at the helicopter. At that point the helicopter crew located a nearby fishing vessel and, unable to raise the vessel on marine radio, used a combination of the Skyshout PA system to attract attention, and hand signals. The vessel made its way to the divers’ location.
Whilst this was being co-ordinated, three divers were able to return to the shoreline; however the other three remained off shore and were taken on board the civilian vessel. All returned safely to shore and medical treatment was not needed at that time.
“Once again, the combination of a speedy response by the helicopter crew and critical assistance from civilians at the scene safely resolved two incidents that could have had a far worse result,” said Air Operations Unit Commander, Steve Fitzgerald. “This underscores again the necessity of having the proper equipment and safety procedures for all marine activities. Luckily in both incidents, people on shore were able to raise the alarm.”
The RCIPS would like to express its thanks for the civilian vessels on location that assisted in both these incidents.