The Coast Guard Auxiliary was officially rebranded across the province as the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue to reflect the distinct community-based nature of the organization on May 26.
The name change will distinguish the volunteer-based marine rescue service from its government funded counterpart, the Canadian Coast Guard.
According to Sooke’s RCM-SAR station leader, Robert Roe, the name change is welcomed as it will help identify the organization as completely volunteer run and partly donation funded.
“(It’s) very significant, hopefully it’ll make a big difference to fundraising when people realize we’re not part of the government.”
According to a press release, RCM-SAR vessels are bought and maintained by local societies. Monetary support for each station comes from local fundraising, provincial gaming grants, corporate contributions, legacies and private donations.
The Sooke RCM-SAR, which has been in place since 1987, responded to 40 calls in the last 12 months, ranging from searches for missing persons, environmental hazards and broken down vessels.
The service operates 24/7 with 26 active members, going offline only when boats are not functioning, and works closely with the RCMP, firefighters, ambulance, Juan de Fuca Search and Rescue and even, on occasion, the US Coast Guard.
Roe said the organization is always looking for new members, and extensive training in areas like seamanship, navigation, communications and first aid will be provided.
The RCM-SAR has more than 1,000 volunteers around the province and serves 46 different communities on the West Coast and the interior of B.C.
In 2011, the RCM-SAR committed 55,000 hours of service, responded to 700 missions and saved 146 lives.