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Mayreau fishermen conduct ‘Rescue at sea’

Mayreau fishermen conduct ‘Rescue at sea’

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Several fishermen and the Mayreau Patrol were involved in a ‘rescue at sea’ simulation on Saturday, March 26, 2016. The purpose of the exercise was to sharpen their Search and Rescue skills and enforce the chain of command during real rescue situations.

The scenario was staged at Salt Whistle Bay off Mayreau, also called ‘Canash’ by the locals. Three youngsters were on a canoe, lost their paddle and the canoe flipped, leaving them in open water without life jackets on.{{more}} However, even though they could swim, they held on to the floating canoe and stayed together (a wise move) until rescuers came to their assistance.

The training exercise also gave the fishermen experience in ‘combing’ the water for debris from ditched aircraft or for victims in the water, by travelling in formation with an agreed separation between all boats for daytime and nighttime SAR operations. All fishing boats had VHF marine radios to communicate among themselves, as well as maintaining contact with persons on land.

Soon after the fishermen ‘rescued’ the victims, the Mayreau Patrol boat, which was in Union Island at the time the distress call was made, arrived on the scene. The fishermen reported what they had done to the officer in charge, including the names of the victims and their state of health.

Following the exercise, there was a debriefing session to evaluate the performance of the fishermen and to chart the way forward. One of the comments was that the Mayreau fishermen need special rescue boats, because fishing boats are not adequate for rescue. The preferred type would be Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIB) with impellers instead of propellers, with a capacity of about 18 to 20 persons. RIBs with water jet engines can travel over relatively shallow areas where it would not be advisable for similar boats with props.

Fishermen will be trained to use and maintain these rescue boats and to conduct quarterly simulations, each simulation focusing on a different aspect of maritime SAR. There are also fishermen who are certified divers, so some of the training will also involve underwater rescue, including extricating persons trapped in submerged boats. Compressors for scuba tanks, extra tanks and regulators will also be needed on Mayreau.

Assistance will also be needed with communications infrastructure. There is currently no place on any of the main beaches where there is complimentary Internet connection which could enable fishermen to obtain the latest weather information before proceeding on fishing trips. This is especially necessary during the hurricane season. It is hoped that the NTRC, through its USF programme, can place two wifi routers: one at Saline Bay, which is the main port of entry and the other at Salt Whistle Bay. It is also suggested that such infrastructure be powered by renewable energy devices, like solar panels, in order to provide an uninterrupted service to fishermen and the maritime community in general.

The Rainbow Radio League Inc, organizers of the training event, wishes to thank SOL petroleum for providing fuel and two-stroke lubricant to allow the Mayreau patrol and four other fishing boats to participate in this training. Thanks is also extended to NEMO, Jaden Sun, Gem Star and the Mayreau RC Church for assistance in making the event the success it turned out to be. The RRL also wishes to thank the volunteers who played the role of ‘canoers’ during the simulation, including fishermen and all other persons from Mayreau, who in one way or another, contributed to the success of this event. A report with pictures and video will be posted on the Rainbow Radio-League FB page.

In related news, the “Jaden Sun” fast ferry donated two deep cycle batteries for the Mayreau Emergency Communications Centre. According to the director of the RRL, Donald De Riggs, the batteries came at an opportune moment, as those that were in line were past their useful lifespan. Thanks to captain Elvis Gooding for his understanding, kindness and continuing cooperation with the RRL. (Report submitted by: Donald De Riggs Director/Secretary – RRL Inc.)

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