CFB Comox helicopter crew assists in rescue of climber

The crew of a 442 Squadron Cormorant helicopter helped to evacuate an injured climber Monday from a steep embankment.

The crew of a 442 Squadron Cormorant helicopter worked with Cowichan Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) and BC Ambulance to evacuate an injured climber from a steep embankment near Shawnigan Lake on Monday evening.

Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria received a call for assistance at approximately 5 p.m. to evacuate the climber who had fallen approximately 20 feet into a deep crevasse, sustaining injuries to his lower body.

Although Cowichan SAR and BC Ambulance were able to successfully extract the man from the crevasse, due to his injuries, they requested he be airlifted from the steep and remote terrain surrounding  the deep ravine.

The Cormorant crew took off from CFB Comox and was hovering overhead the scene on Old Baldy Mountain at approximately 6:30 p.m.

“The GSAR members used silver, thermal emergency blankets to reflect the sun, enabling us to see them through the trees as we got on scene,” said Capt. Luc Coates, pilot. “The embankment they were on was very steep and we worked together as a crew to find a safe place to lower our Search  and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs).”

The two SAR Techs were hoisted almost 80 feet to the ground where they met first responders.

“BC Ambulance and Cowichan SAR had already got the man ready to go, so it was a quick matter of putting him into the litter and hoisting him into the helicopter,” said MCpl. Justin Cervantes, SAR Tech.

Once safely on board, the crew flew the climber to hospital in Victoria where he was transferred in stable condition. His present condition is unknown.

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 Armed Forces may, however, provide assistance to land and inland water rescues when possible.

— 19 Wing Comox