Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Can you say double standard?

Great news today — offshore oil companies now guarantee that a helicopter will be on half-hour search and rescue standby at all times.

Still, I can’t help but wonder how fishermen feel about the 30-minute “wheels up” service.

Considering they’ll still have to wait up to two hours for a Gander-based Cormorant helicopter to come to their rescue outside regular office hours.

One standard for the oil industry.

Another for the fishery.

Can you say double standard?

Are the lives of offshore oil workers worth more than fishermen?

Maybe that’s not a fair question.

Is the East Coast oil industry worth more than the Grand Banks fishery?

In February, commissioner Robert Wells, head of the Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry called after the March 2009 crash of Cougar Flight 491 that claimed 17 lives, recommended a full-time, dedicated and fully equipped response helicopter ready to go in 15 to 20 minutes for St. John’s.

Those response times won’t be met until later this year when a new helicopter — fully equipped and dedicated to search and rescue — is brought into service.

Fifteen to 20 minutes.

That should make fishermen feel even better than they do today.

The search and rescue response standards for the fishery remain as is.

A Gander-based Cormorant helicopter must be airborne within 30 minutes of an emergency call during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and within two hours at other times.

In March, a Canadian Forces representative acknowledged before the Defence committee that between 2000 and 2004 six lives were lost in search and rescue missions where the two-hour response time was a factor.

The House of Commons standing committee on National Defence committed earlier this year to a review of search and rescue times across the country.

No word on when that review will be complete.

Please God before the next tear drop falls.

1 comment:

Craig said...

Ryan I think that the comparison is not entirely fair. Lets not forget that the Oil Industry is paying for this extra helicopter.

If the fishermen want the same service then I guess they can get together and purchase a helicopter and pay to have it sitting around on 24/7 standby. I am sure they have a few extra million lying around.

As far as the Government is concerned the Fishermen and the Oil Workers are being treated the same. The response from Gander will still be the same for each group so they are being treated equally and fairy.

Are the response times from Gander that are approved by the government adequate? I would say no but it is difficult to chastise the Oil Industry for looking after their own.