First dedicated water rescue base and training centre opened in Echo Valley Provincial Park

The Echo Valley Provincial Park is the home of the province’s first dedicated water rescue base and training centre.

The Amphibious Response Support Unit ONE (ARSU1) unveiled its new headquarters, which will help facilitate the services provided by ARSU1 in the Calling Lakes Region.

The 2900-foot building will house the unit’s vessels and equipment and allow for the team’s timely deployment.

Director of Operations for ARSU John Maczko and Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Russ Mirasty shake hands after the official opening. (Photo by Tanner Wallace-Scribner / 620 CKRM)

John Maczko, the director of operations with the Amphibious Response Support Unit ONE, said it had been a long journey to open the facility up.

“It certainly feels amazing to have this facility available for the community that we serve. Now our real work can begin that we are now able to provide far better services.”

“We considered ourselves the Homeless Water Rescue Team. We were constantly looking for opportunities where we could deploy, and we had a lot of assistance from other organizations to hour our equipment temporarily,” Maczko said. “This is a game changer for our organization because this means we can now be more organized and deal with these situations in a far more timely manner.”

ARSU is a volunteer-based organization which operates 365 days a year, providing response services while promoting water and boating safety.

Mazcko said their goal is to help other emergency responders while preventing 911 calls.

“What makes up our typical day is not doing a lot of water response. It’s actually in promoting water safety and boating safety and intervening in incidents that we see happening in the beginning,” he said. “We can prevent 911 calls from actually happening. When we pick up something that is of interest to us that could be of danger, we will intervene at that level.”

As for the training component, he said that their goal is to train the next set of volunteers and offer proper education and safety to the public.

“Our goal will be to train other first responders in how to deal with boating emergencies, the operation of various types of fast boats, as well as the training of individuals who are recreational boaters. We’d like to be able to offer something so that people have more skills when they’re actually out on our waters.”

Mazcko said now the rescue base and training centre is complete; he would like to see the ARSU expand across the province.

“As the founder of this organization, one of my goals was to look at the future and to deploy a model for which other organizations could be developed and work together with us,” he said. “We’ve laid a bit of the groundwork, and now we believe that in the future months and years to come, other organizations or other groups may wish to come to us and be the ARSU’s twos, threes, and fours of this province.”

He added that while the focus will always be preventing the loss of life in the water, they would much instead focus on prevention than responding.

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