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Canadian Boating Stories / April 7, 2022

Canadian boating stories: A fishing guide saves a life

Location : Rivers Inlet, BC
Occupation: Fishing Guide
Year: 1997
Lodge: Salmon King Lodge

My name is Chris Huber, and I spent my early years as a fishing guide at Salmon King Lodge in Rivers Inlet, British Columbia. When I was asked to prepare this short boating story many ideas came to my head, some being the fish I’ve lost, the fish I have landed, and even some memorable whale stories.

Hearing a call for help
One story that sticks out in my mind is the day when I was on an afternoon guiding adventure in the upper waters of an area known as Marker 16, infamous for large spring salmon that can be upwards of 80 to 90 pounds.  After a 30 minute not so pleasant boat ride bucking the afternoon westerly.  As I approached the fishing grounds, I started to get my gear in the water. I heard a faint cry for help but could not make out the location.  My guests and I started to grow worried and started to search out where the call for help was coming from. After ten long minutes, we came upon a small unguided boat from RIR (Rivers Inlet Resort) with two fishermen in it; one whom was laying face down on the floor. The other fisherman was frantically trying to manage the situation with his fallen partner while also trying to navigate the boat in choppy waters from the unfavourable westerly winds.  He looked like a duck with one broken wing going around in circles.

Navigating a rescue
As we got closer to the boat I calmly spoke with my guests to make sure they could manage my boat so I could board the boat with the fallen fisherman. They agreed that they could manage the situation to allow me to help the other boat. The scene was becoming more desperate by the moment.  I attempted to board the other vessel but the chop and the wind was making it difficult. We had to rethink how we were going to navigate this situation and decided the best bet would be to get as close as we could to the vessel in distress and I would jump in the ocean and swim the rest of the way. My guests managed to make a great attempt to get me as close as they could and I took a giant leap and miraculously managed to land in the bow of their boat.

First aid saves a life, A fishing guide saves a life

Once aboard, I asked the coherent fisherman if he could tell me what was happening with his partner. I directed him to drive calmly and slowly with the current towards the end of the inlet which was only a mile away to the Wuikinuxv Nation (formerly known as Oweekeno First Nations Reserve) where we could get emergency medical treatment. My guests were driving my boat ahead of us breaking the waves and creating a calmer path for us. I turned my attention to assist the fallen fisherman. I was made aware that the individual had recently had a triple bypass and was suffering a major heart attack. I managed to prop him up and clear his airways and started performing CPR. He reacted positively to this within seconds with some large gasps of air and his eyes opened wide as he reached towards his shirt pocket, which I discovered had nitroglycerin spray in it. I administered the spray and his condition started to stabilize. We continued down the inlet to medical attention which was waiting for us thanks to radio communication from other boaters assisting who had become aware of the situation as well. Within minutes of arriving at the dock, an air ambulance arrived to take over the treatment and care of the fisherman.

What seemed like forever was probably only 45 – 60 minutes from start to finish. It was definitely a day that I and many others who assisted and witnessed will never forget.

Chris Huber, Comox Valley, BC
Chris Huber, Salmon Fishing

Editors Note:
We want to thank Chris for saving a life and sharing his story.  The boating community is strong and steadfast and we hope by sharing stories we can connect our boating communities across Canada.  Well done, Chris and guests!  We hope you had time to catch the big one that week.

Resources 

Cold Water Safety
Drowning Prevention when boating
Boating courses
First aid courses

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