Prince Rupert Rescue 15 was formed in 1975 to provide land, air and sea search & rescue for Prince Rupert and the North Coast of B.C. The name Rescue 15 came from the old emergency telephone number "15" used in Prince Rupert to contact the RCMP and other emergency services, (similar to the "911" emergency number of today). Before the formation of Rescue 15, volunteers were part of the local division of the Civil Defense dating back to WW II.
In 1977 the Provincial Emergency Program of B.C "PEP" was formed, Rescue 15 signed on with PEP to get better access to training resources and WCB protection. Then during the early 80's the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary was formed, once again Rescue 15 joined this government body to aquire better training for marine SAR.
In April 1995 Rescue 15 went into the computer information system, Pyramid BBS was set up as a educational information system for people in the emergency services field and to the general public.
Today, Rescue 15 has a membership strength of over 70, all members are still a part of PEP & the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
As of 1998 Rescue 15 has responded to over 1000 incidents on Land, Air and Sea, with approximately 2500 persons assisted and over 125 lives saved.
A Brief History
When Rescue 15 was formed in 1975, the marine team used mainly tugs, fishing & private vessels for search & Rescue in and around Prince Rupert. It was decided a few years later that Rescue 15 would have to raise funds through public donations to purchase a dedicated Lifeboat, that would be crewed by volunteers. In 1977 a 16' Zodiac inflatable boat, powered by a 55 hp engine was purchased. This vessel was the first dedicated lifeboat in Prince Rupert.
This boat was joined later by a second Zodiac inflatable that was loaned to Rescue 15 by the Provincial Emergency Program, following a request by Rescue Coordinations Centre in Victoria. Along with the Coast Guard Vessel Cloo-Stung these two Zodiacs provided SAR coverage, until the arrival of the C.G. 123 (later named the Point Henry). In the early 80's PEP had withdrawn from Marine SAR, but continued to support Rescue 15 in Land SAR.
In 1981 it was decided to upgrade Rescue 15's marine capability. A fund raising campaign was started and on December 24th 1982 the Prince Rupert Lifeboat came into service, a ridgid hull inflatable lifeboat. From that time the Rupert Lifeboat has been available for service continuously, apart for one month in 1984 when major modifications were made to the bow sponsoon, following tube separation while on service to assist the (late) Norsal in May of that year.
The Lifeboat is a 20'6" Hurricane 600, powered by two 50 hp Yamaha outboard engines which gives the Lifeboat a response speed of 35 knots. For crew safety the boat is equipped with Self-Righting Gear on the rear cage. Two search lights are mounted on swivels, one each side of the Self-Righting cage. These are supplemented by two hand held search lights, which are a little heavy on the dual battery system but essential when 80% of calls are at night. The boat and equipment were chosen very carefully from Canadian resources to match the Royal National Lifeboat Institution requirements for a fast response inshore lifeboat.
A crew of three is the normal compliment for the Lifeboat, but two crew members can handle most situations comfortably (with only two crew members this also allows the Lifeboat to reach speeds over 35 knots). Crew members are encouraged to join the Canadian Marine Rescue Auxiliary but it isn't a requirement. Lifeboat crew must have OFA I, Radio Operators License, small boat handling and good knowledge of the Chatham Sound area.
Rescue 15 adopted were ever possible the R.N.L.I.'s operating procedure for fast response lifeboats for it's Marine SAR Team. Since 1982 the Prince Rupert Lifeboat has responded to over 500 incidents and assisted approximately 800 persons, some 25 lives have been saved during this period of time.
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