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Water rescue base to be built in Echo Valley Provincial Park

Click to play video: 'Water rescue base coming to Echo Valley Provincial Park' Water rescue base coming to Echo Valley Provincial Park
WATCH: A Saskatchewan search and rescue organization has big plans to make time spent on the lakes of Echo Valley Provincial Park a little safer – Jun 17, 2021

A Saskatchewan search and rescue organization has big plans to make time spent on the lakes of Echo Valley Provincial Park a little safer.

The ARSU-1 hovercraft is seen on the shores of Pasqua Lake. Since 2015 the ARSU-1 team has been providing summertime rescue mission assistance to area first responders. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

“We were looking at a way to make our presence and services more permanent and to provide a bigger range of services in the Calling Lakes region,” said John Maczko, who co-founded Amphibious Rescue Support Unit One (ARSU1) in 2015.

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“Moving forward we decided to develop Saskatchewan’s first dedicated water rescue base.”

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John Maczko commands ARSU One’s Portuguese water dog Gustav. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

Maczko, who has been involved in water search and rescue for more than 30 years, is director of operations and chief pilot with ARSU1. His team provides water rescue support services and water safety education, primarily in Echo Valley Provincial Park.

The planned rescue base will be approximately 2,500 square feet, will house the ARSU1 hovercraft year round and will be located near the park’s visitor centre. It will allow the ARSU1 team, which until now has been based out of Regina, to respond to emergency situations in minutes no matter the season.

Maczko says the team also hopes to develop water safety educational and training programming to offer out of the base as well.

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“We’re in the construction phase to start offering this service. Our goal for ’22 is to be able to provide a service that will cover the entire season,” said Maczko.

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To complete construction, though, Maczko says his team needs to raise around $80,000.

To help raise the money, a donor recognition wall will be built into the new facility. Anyone who donates at least $75 will get their name etched into the wall, with the level of recognition increasing with the size of donations.

As a special incentive, anyone who donates $5,000 to $10,000 will have their name or company logo displayed on the hovercraft.

“Our goal is always zero casualties. So if folks see us out on the shoreline and on the water they can turn to us and we can assist in many ways,” Maczko said.

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