Transport Canada serving Canadians

From Transport Canada

Transport Canada and its employees contribute to the safety and well-being of Canadians around the clock, whether it’s in the air, on the ground or on water. This is a regular series of articles on the services we deliver.

  • July 2017: Sept-Îles Lake: A pilot project for safer, more environmentally-friendly recreational boating

    Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety is responsible for the regulatory framework governing recreational boating. The Pleasure Craft Courtesy Check Program is a key activity for the Office of Boating Safety that promotes and increases awareness among boaters of boating safety and safety issues in the context of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

    The Pleasure Craft Courtesy Check Program is provided free of charge and is very popular with recreational boaters and participating municipalities. The Program is offered in partnership with the Canadian Coast Guard’s Inshore Rescue Boat Service and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, which covers the St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers.

    Statistical analysis of boating incidents in recent years shows a greater vulnerability on inland waterways compared to bigger waterways, such as the St. Lawrence River. Because of this, the team at the Office of Boating Safety, in Transport Canada’s Quebec Region, under the direction of Sophie Noël, felt there was a need to expand their partnerships in order to extend the Pleasure Craft Courtesy Check Program to inland waterways.

    Following significant engagement and consultation with select municipalities in the Greater Quebec City area, the municipalities of Saint-Raymond (Sept-Îles Lake); Fossambault-sur-le-Lac; Lac Saint-Joseph; and Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier —with the participation of the Jacques-Cartier regional county municipality (Lake Saint-Joseph) — agreed to work with Transport Canada to offer the Program in their areas. The Canadian Red Cross also decided to incorporate the Program into its regular activities related to waterways in the Mauricie and Lac-Saint-Jean regions.

    Transport Canada-trained students to carry out boater awareness activities, which include performing courtesy inspections, explaining the regulatory requirements relative to boating safety, and providing information on specific characteristics of the waterways that recreational boaters use or plan to use. The students also promote the importance and utility of nautical charts, and answer boaters’ questions.

    In 2016, more than 2,000 boats were inspected in the Quebec Region and Transport Canada student inspectors met with between 5,000 and 6,000 recreational boaters. These numbers are expected to increase in 2017 as a result of various new initiatives implemented this year.

    The Office of Boating Safety, Quebec Region, is pleased to have new partners who, like Transport Canada, are committed to continually improving safety and protecting lives, health, property and the marine environment through education and increased awareness.

  • June 2017: Fighting fire with fire
    Innovative training exercises help firefighters prepare for dangerous goods emergencies

    It’s a cold February day near Quebec City as firefighters are hard at work battling a blaze, and Transport Canada is on the job. Orange flames leap into the air around a black rail tanker car as grim first responders point their hoses at the fire.

    But, this isn’t a scene from a disaster movie, it’s real-life training organized by Transport Canada for firefighters who may one day have to deal with a real accident in their hometowns.

    Rail incidents involving flammable liquids can deteriorate quickly. An effective response needs an entire team of highly-trained first responders and experts. That’s why TC helped organize two full-scale training exercises to help firefighters get the best preparation for the worst situations.

    The first one, sporting the fiery code name “Vulcan”, took place last year in British Columbia. The second, “Athéna”, was held at the Institut maritime du Québec in Lévis in February 2017, and involved fire departments from small communities around the area.

    To design and deliver the training, specialists from CANUTEC, Transport Canada’s Transport Emergency Centre, and from the department’s Emergency Response Assistance Plan program, worked with experts from the rail and petroleum industry and other related fields.

    CANUTEC is a national advisory service that offers 24/7 advice and support to responders handling dangerous goods emergencies. The centre is staffed by scientists specializing in chemistry or related fields and trained in emergency response.  Every year, CANUTEC deals with approximately 1,000 emergency situations and handles over 25,000 telephone calls.

    Vulcan and Athéna included online training, classroom activities, practical scenarios and field simulations. Participants learned about the risks involved with flammable liquids, potential physical hazards on a derailment site, and what steps to follow when they are called to an incident. They were also taught about industry best practices and the different tactics and strategies they can use.

    A key component was promoting teamwork and making sure everyone understood their role. When this many players are involved, coordination is a must for timely, safe incident resolution.

    For Vulcan, a derailment site was available. With Athéna, organizers had to innovate. A virtual prototype was developed to simulate a derailment involving flammable liquids. The prototype provided a complete, realistic view of a site, including smoke and fire. An outdoor prop at the Institut was also modified to deliver a more realistic experience.

    Participants’ knowledge was tested before and after the exercise. Feedback will be essential for determining how helpful and effective the exercise was. The eventual goal is to develop a national training program for first responders.

    Just like putting out a fire, success wouldn’t be possible without partnership and teamwork. Transport Canada worked closely with Defence Research and Development Canada, and is grateful to the following organizations for providing staff or equipment for Exercise Athéna:

    Transport Canada is on duty 24 hours a day, making a real contribution and difference in the lives of Canadians.

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