Wiseman continues to speak out on search and rescue cuts

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Former Coast Guard employee says safety is compromised

Merv Wiseman, retired search and rescue reform advocate, was at the Clarenville Rotary Club today to talk about the province’s search and rescue situation.

At the Clarenville Rotary Club meeting today Merv Wiseman spoke about changes to the province’s search and rescue protocol and the negative effects they have brought about. At the meeting were (left to right): Graham Bursey, Vince Rice, Karen Bursey, Ern Warren, Merv Wiseman, Richard Power, Geoff Bailey and Pat Carpenter.

Wiseman is a retired Search and Rescue coordinator with 35 years of experience in the field. He has contributed to numerous nautical safety programs and has received awards for his work in the field.

Wiseman worked at the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John’s until it closed in 2012. The centre was established in 1978 and, in many ways, was part of a system which he describes as leading the way in marine vessel safety in the world.

He told the Rotary Club the centre was closed as a cost cutting measure, but in his opinion, was a result of bad politics.

He said Newfoundland and Labrador has the largest fishing vessel fleet in the country and the smallest vessels that are active.

He noted the current “standby posture” for Newfoundland and Labrador is a two-hour response time, compared to England’s standby posture of 45 minutes and Norway’s time of 15 minutes.

Wiseman is worried about further cuts to the infrastructure required to fully service the province and expects more closures to come.

One of the primary problems in many incidents at sea, according to Wiseman, is lack of proper communication.

Wiseman stressed that while the Marine Rescue Sub-Centre was closed as a redundancy, communication has become more strained.

Wiseman said, communication is “the primary function of decision making.”

With 1000 offshore workers in Newfoundland and Labrador, Wiseman said he is fighting for better security.

“The safety blanket has been removed…we are not ready.”

jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Organizations: Coast Guard, Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre, Rotary Club Marine Rescue Sub-Centre

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, England, Norway

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