Sending Out An S.O.S.

The other day I was sitting at the kitchen table thinking about writing yet another little story about making edible food products from excess garden produce. As usual I had the VHF (very high frequency) marine radio turned on, monitoring channel 16, the emergency Coast Guard channel. I thought the following story was more important than the question of what to do with all the green tomatoes sitting on the back porch.

It was around 2 pm when I heard the radio come to life with a man’s voice calling from the fishing vessel, the Proud Canadian. He was hailing the Victoria Coast Guard radio station. The vessel was not far from here, a seine boat I think, that may have been fishing for chum salmon or was perhaps on its way to deliver its load down south.

I listened in alarm while the caller calmly told the Coast Guard that a member of the crew, one of five on board, had just been hit in the head by a tow line and was now lying, unconscious, on the stern deck of the seine boat. As the minutes passed, I heard the caller mention that the injured man was coming to. The radio dispatcher replied. Would a medical evacuation be required? Did the seine boat have a telephone? They had two, a cell phone and a satellite telephone, but there was no signal for the cell phone to work, and later when the Coast Guard tried to call the seiner back they said they could not get through on the satellite phone either. So the call continued on the VHF radio phone.

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VHF radio phone

I listened carefully to the real life drama through the receiver of my own marine radio telephone, located on the shelf above the kitchen sink. As I did, many thoughts raced through my mind. I have lived and worked on or near the water in remote locations for a large part of my life, and I understand how important good communication systems and protocol are in emergency situations like this. They can be a matter of life and death. This is a fact. Continue reading “Sending Out An S.O.S.”