Rescue / Distress rocket fired in error: the SNSM files a complaint!


In the night from Saturday to Sunday, the CROSS Antilles-Guyane calls the Saint-Martin rescue station for a distress rocket launch in the Cul de Sac / Pinel / Tintamarre sector.

Four volunteer team members meet at the station to pick up the equipment and set off at 23:35 p.m. with the Rescue Star, heading for Cul de Sac. It will turn out to be a false alarm. But rescuers will not know until they have intervened.

“In the evening of Saturday, the CROSS was alerted by two different witnesses on the ground, concerning a red rocket launch; one estimates the shooting in the bay of Cul de Sac, the second in the alignment of Cul de Sac, but more offshore, between Pinel and Tintamarre ", relates the SNSM. The CROSS asks the gendarmes to send a pedestrian patrol on Cul de Sac and the SNSM to leave.

“When we arrived in the area, near the landfill, the CROSS first asked us to make an offshore reconnaissance. His reasoning is to always start with the farthest, because, if people are in trouble offshore, there is less chance that they will do it alone than in a bay, close to the shore, where others people are likely to be able to help them, ”explains SNSM. “The CROSS therefore gives us four GPS points and asks us to connect these four points, going from the landfill to Tintamarre, then going up to the North, and then due West to make a square around the area. Two catamarans are at anchor in Tintamarre; we wake up the people on board and ask them if they have seen anything. The two crews have been in the area since the day and have seen nothing unusual, ”she continues.

Equipped with thermal binoculars with a range of 1800m, and a searchlight, the rescuers scan the entire area, but do not observe any sign of distress.

“The CROSS then asks us to go for a ride in the Cul de Sac Bay. We take the small pass between Cul de Sac and Pinel and arrive at the anchorage in front of Pinel, where there are several boats at anchor. Fortunately there are people outside on one of the catas; so no need to wake people up this time! The boat's skipper, a serious, professional and credible person whom we know well, confirms to us that he saw the distress rocket; but he tells us that it was fired from the ground and that it landed on the roof of the old Mont Vernon hotel. “, Says the SNSM.

The skipper explains to the rescuers that he went to check with his boat dinghy if a person was really in danger. “When he got to the beach, he saw no sign of anyone in distress, no lights, no ship, and no one. He then returned to his boat and watched the area; but, until our arrival, he saw nothing else; no additional rocket fire; nothing at all ”, reports the SNSM which transmitted this information to the CROSS, which gives it freedom to maneuver at 1:25 am.

The SNSM wishes good night to the people on board the catamaran and leaves the area to return to the Fort Louis marina. The Rescue Star is dropped off at 02:00 a.m.

"For our volunteer team members, it was another useless outing, a shortened night's sleep, because of irresponsible fools on the beach," comments the owner of the SNSM.

This type of intervention is not the first. Last August, a crew had already left unnecessarily in the middle of the night because a rocket had been fired when no one was in danger. Unnecessarily provoking the deployment of human and material aid is a crime. "The author  incurs  up to € 30 fine and two years imprisonment according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, ”said the SNSM. This is why she decided to file a systematic complaint with the gendarmerie in the event of a false alarm; its first will concern the incident that occurred during the night of Saturday to Sunday.

Anyone who, by mistake or accident, sets off a distress rocket is asked to contact the CROSS, the gendarmerie or the SNSM (0690 76 57 00) to warn them not to engage emergency means.

The SNSM recalls that the hand flares or red rockets must be used only in the event of real distress.

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