Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cougar`s Search and Rescue response times beat military's hands down; lives of oil workers more valued than mariners

Cougar Helicopters recently opened a new $8-million search-and-rescue hanger at St. John's International Airport, with a wheels-up response time of 20 minutes during the day, and 45 minutes during evenings, weekends and holidays.

Of course, Cougar services the offshore oil industry.

Fishermen and other mariners have to wait a little bit longer for rescue from the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.

They're forced to rely on the military's Gander-based Cormorant search-and-rescue helicopters, with a wheels-up response time of 30 minutes between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, and up to 2 hours during evenings, weekends and holidays.

Canada's SAR response is slow as molasses compared to other countries, and the federal Conservatives aren't prepared to speed it up.

Someone should let Stephen Harper in on a little secret: hypothermia will kill a fisherman just as quickly as a rig worker.

How can his government justify the two-tier response?

Simple — search and rescue on the cheap. 

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