27 March 2012

The difference in lost lives #nlpoli #cdnpoli

In the past month, at least two people have died as a result of misadventure in the wilderness on motorized vehicles.

One was was a 23 year old young man who inadvertently rode his all terrain vehicle into the water, where he drowned.

The other was a 14 year old young man whose snowmobile ran out of gas outside his hometown on the Labrador coast.  He turned the wrong way to walk home and wound up, tragically, freezing to death.  Had he turned the right way, he walked far enough to be home twice over.

In both cases, the local police directed the search with the help from volunteers and from the provincial emergency response organization.  The emergency response agency called in helicopters from a civilian contractor to give the searchers the ability to cover more ground.  That’s what they do to help the people searching on the ground.

Here’s what you will find on the Fire and Emergency Services website:

Fire and Emergency Services – NL is called upon to assist the police forces (Royal Newfoundland Constabulary & Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in search and rescue activities. This assistance is usually in the form of air services support for lost and missing persons. The program is also utilized by FES-NL during emergency response activities.

Sometimes they call for help from the military search and rescue service.  But just so everyone is clear on who is responsible for what when it comes to search and rescue, here’s the mission as described on the website for the office that co-ordinates the military rescue service:

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Halifax is responsible for the coordination of all Search and Rescue (SAR) operations associated with aircraft and marine emergencies in eastern Canada.

All this is important because CBC’s Fifth Estate decided to ignore those and a great many other factual details in its ghoulish rush to grab some ratings. They spent most of their recent report reciting aspects of the story that are well known.  The weather issue was one everyone asked about early on and that National Defence addressed in detail.

They interviewed the president of Universal Helicopters.  When his company got the call from provincial officials, they were already committed to going he says, or words to that effect.  He did not add and CBC certainly didn’t bother to explain that Universal has the contract to fly those search missions for provincial authorities. 

And if Universal doesn’t anyone trained to provide much in the way of  emergency medical support on those flights, that is because the provincial government hasn’t put it in the contract.  They don’t have any infra-red equipment either, for the same reason.  But, no need to worry, the provincial government is taking care of that.

New information about problems with the Hercules aircraft fleet in Greenwood actually explains in much clearer terms why the joint rescue centre didn’t send a helicopter from Gander.  To do so, at a time when the weather was iffy, might have risked preventing them from responding to a marine emergency.  After all that is the first responsibility for military search and rescue.  As much as fifth estate tries to spin the story otherwise,  the people who did the searching in Makkovik were the people who were supposed to be searching.

But for all that,  the Fifth Estate story was good enough to get some politicians to ask questions in the legislature.

The CBC supper hour news led into the coverage of the House of Assembly session on Monday by noting that CBC’s reporting was one of the major topics of discussion.  Their online story tells us all that the Premier is demanding answers “to questions raised about the search for Burton Winters by The Fifth Estate.”  If you think pushing turkeys at Christmas is unseemly for a news organization, imagine what you’d think of such public masturbation.

In any event, opposition politicians asked the provincial government what they would do about the federal government.  And, as CBC reported, Premier Kathy Dunderdale was happy to stand up in the House of Assembly and insist that she was as fried as everyone else that those nasty federales weren’t answering questions.  Dunderdale did her best to out-posture Liberal Yvonne Jones about whose indignation was more righteous but in the end they both wound up in a tie. 

They should both be ashamed of themselves, all the ghoul-politicians who have feasted on this tragedy, should be ashamed of themselves.  The problem is that politicians from this province seem to have had the organ that controls decent, human behaviour surgically removed.  No search and rescue crew could find it. 

Otherwise, they’d have long ago stopped torturing the Winters family or figured out they they keep looking to the wrong people to provide answers to any questions they still have.

Incidentally, Jordan Wells is the other young man who died in a tragic accident earlier this year.

No politicians seem to care about Jordan’s family, though.  No one has asked any questions in the legislature about Jordan.  No one seems to wonder why he died, how he died and why the police and local volunteers searched for him.  There’s not much chance  a national television crew will show up to record his parents’ exquisite grief so that people in Sri Lanka can watch them bathe themselves with shards of broken glass over and over and over

There is apparently a difference between tragic deaths that only certain types of politicians and reporters can see.

It might be better to be blind.

- srbp -