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Helicopter crew from Comox busy Thursday with two rescues

MCPL ALEXANDRE DEMERS prepares to be hoisted onto the side of Golden Hinde to evacuate an injured hiker during an afternoon rescue on Aug. 2. - MCpl Rainer Roedger/442 Squadron
MCPL ALEXANDRE DEMERS prepares to be hoisted onto the side of Golden Hinde to evacuate an injured hiker during an afternoon rescue on Aug. 2.
— image credit: MCpl Rainer Roedger/442 Squadron

The crew of an RCAF Cormorant search and rescue (SAR) helicopter had a busy Thursday afternoon rescuing two people in separate incidents on Vancouver Island.

At approximately 3:20 p.m., Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria (JRCC Victoria) received a 911 call that a young girl was stranded on a log after being thrown from her inner tube in the swiftly moving Quinsam River near Campbell River. JRCC requested the 442 Squadron Cormorant crew at CFB Comox, which was nearby doing readiness training, to hoist the girl from the log.

“We were on scene in 20 minutes,” said Capt. Luc Coates, aircraft commander. “We flew up the river and spotted her very easily. She was wearing a red life-jacket and there were many anglers in the area alerting us.”

Once overhead, Search and Rescue Technician (SAR Tech) MCpl Alexandre Demers was hoisted down from a height of 200 feet.

“She was very calm, despite speaking only German,” said MCpl Demers. “The Flight Engineer [Warrant Officer Phillipe Robin] did a great job of hoisting me down right next to the log. I did my best to explain what was going to happen, put the rescue collar on her and we were hoisted up quickly.”

Once on board, the helicopter flew to the Campbell River Airport, where the young girl was transferred to BC Ambulance as a precaution.

As the helicopter was refueling in Campbell River, JRCC Victoria received a distress call from a group of hikers on Golden Hinde, in Strathcona Provincial Park. The hikers had activated their emergency beacon on Vancouver Island's highest mountain, indicating that one of them had fallen and required evacuation from a cliff face at an altitude of 5,000 feet.

The helicopter arrived in the area at approximately 4:30 p.m.

“An RCMP helicopter was already in the area and they were able to tell us where the hikers were,” said Capt. Coates. “It saved us a lot of time and made things really efficient.”

Despite the spray from a nearby waterfall obscuring the crew’s view, the two SAR Techs and a rescue litter were hoisted onto the mountainside.

“The hiker had fallen about 45 feet down a steep snow slope. The hiker’s friends had done a good job of treating the injuries and it really helped us out,” said Sgt. Robin Richardson, SAR Tech. “We put the patient in the litter and hoisted him out.”

The two other hikers were also hoisted off the mountain. The injured hiker was brought to 19 Wing, CFB Comox and transferred into the care of BC Ambulance in stable condition.

— 19 Wing Comox

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