GAMRU Initiates Winter Training, Welcoming 14 New Members for Next Season

As the boating community braces for the challenges that the upcoming season may bring, the dedicated team at GAMRU, a prominent marine rescue organization, is already gearing up for action. With a commitment to ensuring the safety of water enthusiasts and responding effectively to emergencies, GAMRU has officially commenced its winter training program.

This year, GAMRU is proud to welcome 14 new members to its ranks, expanding the organization's capabilities and reinforcing its mission to protect lives and property at sea. The influx of fresh talent injects new energy and perspectives into the seasoned team, fostering a collaborative and dynamic environment.

The winter training sessions serve as a crucial preparatory phase for both existing and new members. It's a time when everyone comes together to learn, refine their skills, and stay updated on the latest techniques and protocols in marine rescue. From navigation and emergency response procedures to advanced first aid techniques, participants will engage in comprehensive training modules designed to enhance their capabilities on the water.

These training sessions not only focus on technical skills but also emphasize teamwork, communication, and coordination – vital elements in the success of any rescue operation. GAMRU recognizes the importance of a cohesive and well-prepared team, and the winter training is a testament to their dedication to excellence.

The addition of new members adds diversity to the team, leading to a wealth of experience, expertise, and passion for marine rescue. The seasoned members, in turn, play a pivotal role in mentoring and sharing their knowledge, ensuring that the organization continues to uphold its high standards of proficiency and efficiency.

With a rich history of responding to countless emergencies at sea, GAMRU remains at the forefront of marine rescue organizations. The winter training sessions mark the beginning of an intense and comprehensive preparation process, positioning GAMRU to face the challenges of the upcoming season with confidence and competence.

Rescue volunteers need help replacing popular hero Oscar

He’s been run over by boats, poked with poles and left in the freezing lake water. He’s been scarred by propellers, had his clothes shredded and been manhandled and left in undignified positions. And now he’s finally had enough: one of the longest-serving members of South Shore Search And Rescue is calling it quits.

Oscar, the group’s rescue dummy, is retiring.

Officially a “rescue training manikin,” Oscar has been around the volunteer outfit for as long as anyone can remember. And given the hard service he’s seen — thrown repeatedly into the water and retrieved by members as part of their rigorous training — his retirement this year is well-earned.

Replacing Oscar isn’t going to be easy and the South Shore volunteers have already started a fundraising campaign to acquire a replacement. A new rescue training manikin can cost up to $2,000.00.

The group’s campaign kicks off this month in the hope of having a new manikin in time for the 2023 season. Donations can be made via the group’s website at www.gamru.ca/donations and the Canada Helps portal, where the donations are handled and charitable receipts issued. The campaign has already been given a great boost via a $750.00 grant from the Niagara Community Foundation mini grants program. Progress will be tracked through the volunteers’ social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

An essential part of the curriculum for training rescuers is how to recover victims from the water. Careful handling of victims who may be terrified, injured or suffering from hypothermia is crucial and the rescue manikin is ideal for training that is literally hands-on.

“If there’s an award for stoicism, commitment and quiet courage, we would nominate our Oscar,” explains unit leader Sean Coffey. “He’s been subjected to the most difficult conditions imaginable. He has been pulled, pushed and dragged. He’s been poked and bumped and run over. And he’s been instrumental in training literally dozens of recruits in real-life rescue work.”

“Oscar is a hero,” Coffey concludes.

Record marine rescue season for volunteers with work still to do

The volunteers of South Shore Search And Rescue were called out 43 times in the 2022 boating season, a number that equals the record set in 2020 for rescue calls in a single year, the head of the marine volunteer group told members this week.

The 2022 tally included another record — eight victims saved in a single mission. It is the most people saved in a single call in the organization's history.

"By any measure, 2022 was an extraordinary season," unit leader Sean Coffey told members. "In addition to the volume of calls, the diversity of situations we met on the water challenged our crews. They met that challenge with discipline, skill and commitment."

The rescue volunteers came to the aid of disabled and overdue boats, vessels aground, persons in the water and other emergencies. The season saw an increase in the number of small, self-powered vessels like paddle boards in distress and people on inflatable pool toys adrift on the lake.

Preliminary data from the 2022 season shows the average response time for the rescuers was 11 minutes. The crews logged more than 50 hours on rescue missions.

And while the rescue vessel has been hauled out for the winter, the volunteers' work on land continues, Coffey reminded members. The volunteers will be canvassing local businesses to collect gift cards and gift certificates for the annual online charity auction November 23 through November 26, 2022. The group's largest fundraiser of the year, the auction provides the essential funds for vital fuel, maintenance, training and repairs. Details are available at www.gamru.ca/auction.

The fall is also recruitment time for new members. Membership is open to anyone in the community. Candidates for crew must be 18 years or older, live within easy driving distance of the base at Fifty Point and physically able to function in a difficult marine environment; volunteers to help with projects like fundraising are also welcome. Interested candidates should contact Matthew Tulk at membership@gamru.ca.

Marine rescue heroes meet their investment in South Shore safety - STONEY CREEK, Ont. (Sept. 16, 2021)

The newest heroes of marine rescue on Lake Ontario are the donors who invested in the sophisticated new rescue boat now saving lives on the water.

That was the message to the donors of a multi-year campaign to acquire the new boat for the volunteers of GAMRU South Shore Search And Rescue at a meeting to celebrate the contributors to the boat fund.

“That makes you our heroes,” unit leader Matt Tulk told donors assembled here to tour the new vessel.