Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 12, 2013 - 9:46 am

Be prepared and stay safe on the land, Nunavut minister advises

“Let’s improve our preparation and take responsibility for safe travels on the land"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Spot messaging devices can save lives, says Lorne Kusugak, Nunavut's minister of Community Government and Services. (FILE IMAGE)
Spot messaging devices can save lives, says Lorne Kusugak, Nunavut's minister of Community Government and Services. (FILE IMAGE)

Be prepared when you go out on the land: that was the message delivered March 11 in the Nunavut legislature by Lorne Kusugak, minister of Community and Government Affairs.

Kusugak said his department had responded to 178 requests for search and rescue assistance in 2012.

Of those searches, 53 of these were triggered by Spot tracking device activations.

The Government of Nunavut handed out 500 of the satellite messenger devices to communities across the territory in 2010, to be made available to residents free of charge.

Spot messengers can send an SOS help message or customized message, and allow contacts to track a user’s location.

“We have documented cases where individuals would have perished without the use of the Spot tracking units,” he said. “This underscores the importance of taking a tracking communications device like a Spot device when going out on the land. Carrying a Spot device can often be the difference between life and death.”

Of last year’s searches, 40 occurred because people didn’t take enought fuel when they travelled. Another 49 searches were the result of mechanical breakdowns, Kusugak said.

“Being prepared with extra fuel and a few critical snowmobile parts can save lives,” he said.

Each search puts volunteer search and rescue personnel at risk, “yet they undertake their mission without question, Kusugak said.

His reminder to Nunavummiut:
• before you leave, let someone know – tell others of your travel plans and when you expect to return;

• always be prepared to spend 72 hours on the land – take additional food, shelter, and equipment, even on short day trips, in case of emergencies; and,

• take a communications signalling device like a satellite phone or Spot device.

“Let’s improve our preparation and take responsibility for safe travels on the land,” Kusugak said.

The CGS department is working closely with the RCMP to develop a new policy on search and rescue, which Kusugak said ‘clarifies and strengthens the roles of government, communities, and our partners in search and rescue activities.”

The department’s protection services division is also working with Environment Canada to have 1-800 numbers available for communities to call for weather updates.

These automated reports will also be translated into Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun.

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