Internet connectivity is one of the ways to keep communities safe.

That’s according to the president of the Masset Marine Rescue Society and Archipelago Ground Search and Rescue Society Chris Ashurst.

“Upgrades to our local internet network and cellular service are making a big difference in the work we do from an emergency-management perspective,” Ashurst said.

“In this modern world, much of our work is done online, and having stable and secure internet helps us better prepare for and manage emergency situations.”

The province says Masset Marine Rescue responds to about 10 incidents a year. The volunteers cover a large area, including the Dixon Entrance, Northern Hecate Strait, the Masset Inlet and many other areas around Haida Gwaii. 

The team tows disabled vessels, provides emergency medical assistance, evacuates injured mariners to medical care, and provides community support for other maritime events. They also train other volunteers in marine safety, certification, and professional mariner skills. 

Ashurst says they receive initial alerts after which they assess the situation using online data, put together a plan, and call volunteers and constantly communicate and coordinate. 

“During an emergency, these internet upgrades are helping us get the message faster and to a larger portion of the community, which will help keep people safe,” he added.

Since 2017, the provincial government has funded projects to improve high-speed internet connectivity in 479 communities, including 83 Indigenous communities, and approximately 45, 000 households. 

This includes improving internet access in rural Haida Gwaii. Work began in March 2018 and is expected to be done by early next year.