Nunavut SAR incidents down slightly in 2014-15, but rate still high
GN emergency office oversaw 217 searches involving 415 people
Search and rescue efforts across Nunavut decreased slightly in 2014-15, but the number of rescues is still “very high,” a report tabled March 15 in the legislature said.
According to the Nunavut Emergency Management annual report, staff at Nunavut’s department of Community and Government Services carried out 217 search and rescue operations between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2015.
Hunting mishaps topped the list of rescue incidents at 97, while 43 incidents occurred at sea, the report said.
“Searches were conducted for over 450 individuals. Fifty per cent of the searches were the result of either running out of fuel or mechanical breakdown,” the report said.
The report also breaks down the number of rescues by month: March led with 25 incidents, followed by June (24 incidents), August (22) and April (21.)
“SPOT [GPS] devices or personal location beacons supplied by the [Government of Nunavut] were used in 89 of the incidents,” the report said.
The death of an Iqaluit hunter at the floe edge in February prompted the GN to urge Nunavut hunters to sign out a SPOT GPS device for free from any hamlet office in the territory.
According to the tabled document, the Nunavut Emergency Management division, which became a standalone division in 2014-15, focusing on emergency management and search and rescues, dealt with two local emergencies during that fiscal year.
First, the report said the infamous Iqaluit dump fire that burned for five months was not the only landfill fire in the territory that year, but inflicted the greatest impact on people and the environment.
“It is very unfortunate, but it is very likely to happen again, if not in Iqaluit than in another of our communities,” the report said of the landfill fire, adding every community should have an emergency plan in case of a landfill fire.
Second, Pond Inlet declared an emergency in February 2015 when all of the community’s sewage trucks became unusable, leaving citizens without flushing toilets or potable water from their taps.
That emergency came to an end two weeks later after a heavy equipment mechanic from Ottawa travelled to the north Baffin community to repair the trucks.
“Some of the parts needed for repairs came from the southern United States and Mexico, which were shipped as soon as they were located to Pond Inlet,” the report said.