As the Canadian Coast Guard continues to pursue its imprudent decisions to close Rescue Centres such as those located in St. John’s, NL, Quebec City and now in Kitsilano, BC, a member of the public shares her story with UCTE about how search and rescue personnel saved her life.
Dear Vancouver elected officials, my federal MP (Don Davies), MP for Vancouver Centre, union representatives and Canadian Coast Guard members, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper,
I have been watching the news about the impending closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, and I am writing to implore you to stop it, because the station saves lives – and I can say this with certainty because it once saved mine.
It was a summer afternoon many years ago, and I was on a sailboat in Howe Sound, well past UBC and heading toward Bowen Island. I was lying on the deck enjoying the wind and the sun, when suddenly I felt an intense pain in my wrist – and when I looked down, I saw a wasp fly away. I have an extreme allergy to stings, so I knew I was in big trouble; and even though I had my Epipen with me, I knew it would only buy me 20 minutes – if I was lucky.
I told the two people I was with – friends of friends who didn’t know I was allergic – that they needed to call 911, head for shore, and try to keep me conscious as I gave myself the adrenaline shot and took heavy doses of antihistamines.
I don’t remember a whole lot of what happened after that, because I started to slip into shock – but I do know that a Coast Guard zodiac from the Kitsilano station was at the boat within minutes, sped me to shore, and transferred me to a waiting ambulance that then whisked me up to UBC Hospital where I was treated for anaphylaxis. It was a very close call, but, several days and another full-blown reaction later, I was ok.
I can’t say for certain what would have happened had the Kitsilano station not been there, and had the nearest rescuers been all the way out in Steveston – but when you consider that epinephrine only buys you a small amount of time in a serious reaction, and that I was already fading when rescuers arrived, it’s not a stretch to say I likely would not be here today.
I’m sure that my story is just one of hundreds, especially considering the amount of boat traffic in the area.
Believe me, I am all for keeping budgets lean and efficient – but when you’re talking about not just the potential loss of life, but the almost certain loss of life as a result, it is far from worth it.
Please keep the Kitsilano Coast Guard station open.
From coast to coast to coast, we have been privileged to hear stories about the lifesaving work that you do every day. We know that this government has heard similar stories as well. And yet, it continues to threaten the safety of the public in the name of dollars without using any common sense.
We continue to ask “What is a life worth?” To this government, it does not seem like much.
To our members, who are unsung heroes every day, we say thank you.