SALT SPRING ISLAND, BC Canada, August 8, 2011 — This past Saturday, August 6, was a calm and sunny day in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands – until alarms suddenly came over the VHF radio at Captain Nick Boychuck’s Vessel Assist Gulf Islands, a local recreational boat towing and salvage company located on Salt Spring Island. A mayday had been issued for a nearby vessel reporting a smoke condition off Conover Cove on Wallace Island.
While Vessel Assist Gulf Islands is not a rescue service, Captain Boychuk responded to the urgent radio broadcast, jumped in his high-speed response vessel and gave radio watch standers an ETA (estimated time of arrival) of 15 minutes. However, within minutes of departing, a second urgent mayday came over the radio: a male on a nearby sailboat, On Call, was reported to be unconscious as the result of an allergic reaction to a wasp bite.
Capt. Boychuk immediately turned the helm over and headed to the sailboat with a five-minute ETA. A nearby vessel listening to the urgent radio activity, MV Loon, offered an “Epi Pen” they had on board and Boychuk swiftly picked it up and raced it over to the captain of On Call who administered the life-saving shot to his passenger.
With the man semi-conscious and not responding quickly, Capt. Boychuk retrieved a second Epi Pen from MV Loon, which the captain of the On Call also administered. Boychuk then took the injured man aboard, coordinated with authorities to meet at the government dock in Ganges and raced at 30 knots to the awaiting Environmental Health Services. The man was hospitalized and survived.
The injured man’s family later informed Boychuk that the sailor would not have survived without the injections and Boychuk’s speedy response. "This is the second Medi-vac we've done this year,” said Boychuk. “The previous one was for a man who was suffering a heart attack at 3:00 a.m. We thought we could help given that our ETA was 10 minutes whereas rescue assets were an hour away. In that case, we also transferred that patient to our vessel and delivered him to the paramedics in Ganges. This is not something we do all the time, but if we can help or we can respond more quickly, we will go. It’s what mariners do for each other. We're here to help."
Whatever came of the vessel reporting smoke? They found assistance and the day also ended well for them.
About BoatUS Towing Services:
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers its half million members a wide array of consumer services, including on-the-water towing assistance provided by TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist Pacific. Combined, these two towing fleets offer North American boaters the largest network of US and Canadian towing ports with over 290 locations and over 600 towing assistance vessels — more than double that of any other service provider.