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Search and Rescue crews busy on holidays

By CONTRIBUTED
December 27, 2012 · 3:34 PM
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Two people hiking on Marble Mountain, near Duncan, were hoisted to safety by the crew of an RCAF Cormorant helicopter after becoming stranded on steep terrain, Saturday night.

Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria received a call for assistance from Duncan RCMP after local Ground Search and Rescue was unable to locate the pair. The 442 Squadron helicopter took off from 19 Wing Comox at 1 a.m. Sunday, and was soon circling over the search area.

“One of the hikers had a cellphone so we called him to determine their location,” said Captain Jean Leroux, aircraft commander. “He was  able to spot our lights and he used them to guide us to where they were.”

With the helicopter hovering near a tall cliff, Search and Rescue technicians and the flight engineer worked together to hoist the pair into the helicopter before low clouds could move in.

Once safely on board, the crew flew the hikers to a nearby sports field where they were transferred to a waiting BC Ambulance in stable condition.

Search and Rescue (SAR) incidents under the federal SAR mandate are defined as all aircraft incidents and all marine incidents in waters under federal jurisdiction. With the exception of federally owned National Parks, the overall responsibility for land and inland water search and rescue rests with the provinces, territories and municipalities.  The Canadian Forces may, however, provide assistance to land and inland water rescues when possible.

 

Meanwhile, a snowboarder stranded in a steep ravine between Horseshoe Bay and Lions Bay was hoisted to safety last Tuesday by the crew of an RCAF Cormorant search and rescue (SAR) helicopter.

The Cormorant was launched in support of the ground SAR operation after a request from West Vancouver Police was received through the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria. The helicopter, from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, departed 19 Wing Comox and arrived on scene at approximately 8:30 p.m.

 

“We had great cooperation with the ground SAR crews that had already reached the snowboarder,” said Captain Francois Fasquelle, first officer. “They set off a flare to mark their position on the flank of the mountain, and then helped us navigate to their exact position via radio.”

In the midst of a sudden snow squall, the Cormorant crew worked together to maintain a safe hover near a steep cliff, enabling the Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs) to be hoisted approximately 280 feet through trees to the waiting snowboarder and ground SAR members.

“Visibility was extremely poor during the hoist sequences,” said Sgt. Tony Norris, the flight engineer who operated the hoist. “In addition to the blowing snow and wind, we had very tall trees, cliffs and water in the area that made the operation challenging.”

Upon reaching on the ground, the SAR Techs used a horse collar to bring the snowboarder and the four ground SAR members into the helicopter. Once on board, the helicopter flew to Vancouver International Airport, where the snowboarder was transferred to BC Ambulance.

— 19 Wing