Remote coastal communities still hoping for SAR help

Gord Johns in the News

Source: CHEK TV, Dean Stolz

Leviathan II tragedy raised the issue of why people in remote coastal communities could be trained as first responders to marine accidents.

[Video available at link above]

Ahousaht is just one of dozens of small remote communities on the BC coast where people respond to others in need like they did last October 25th to the capsized Leviathan II.

However, after the Leviathan tragedy the need for people in places like Ahousaht to be properly trained as marine first responders came to light.

"Yeah it's like we're on our own at times and I've said also publicly don't take us for granted. We will always be here and always be willing to help but at the same time help us to help those who are in need" said Ahousaht Chief Councillor Greg Loui in the days after the tragedy last October.

But people living in the small Flores Island community say nothing has changed.

"Nothing has really changed, everything seems to be the same. Nothing's been done, everyone is still doing their own thing" said Ahousaht resident Clarence Smith.

In Ottawa Tuesday Gord Johns the NDP MP for Courtenay Alberni which includes Ahousaht tabled a motion in the House of Commons stating in part, "the government should allocate resources and provide training and equipment to volunteer first responders in remote coastal communities."

"The motion is to support Coast Guard and supply training and skills and equipment to local residents who are the first responders in times of crisis on the water and it's important to know people who live in remote coastal communities have traditional knowledge of the waters and they're on the water so this motion is to do everything we can to call on Ottawa to support coastal communities" Johns said in an interview with CHEK News.

"I think what we'd like to see is exactly that, more training capacity, building the certification that's required for building this kind of response. They need to know they have a coordinated and effective response and that they have the tools and equipment they need to enact that response" said Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne at a press conference in Tofino Tuesday.

The answer could be in the hands of the Transportation Safety Board which continues to investigate the incident. Its most recent report was back in March.

CHEK News has been told the final report on the sinking which could include recommendations such as training first responders in remote coastal communities, is being worked on but that there is no planned date for its release.