Climber rescued in Kootenays by CFB Comox personnel

Aircraft from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron were called Saturday at approximately 9 p.m. to evacuate an injured climber who had fallen down a waterfall at MacBeth Icefield north of Kootenay Lake.

Aircraft from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron were called Saturday at approximately 9 p.m. to evacuate an injured climber who had fallen down a waterfall at MacBeth Icefield north of Kootenay Lake.

A CC-115 Buffalo airplane and a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter were dispatched by Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre Victoria at the request of regional Emergency Health Services (EHS) who were unable to reach the injured man through local means.

“We made it into the area under flares, which were being dropped by the Buffalo,” said Capt. Wayne Atwood, aircraft commander of the Cormorant. “It took us a few tries to land on a steep ridge above the waterfall from which the patient had fallen. Once there, we dropped off our two Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs) and took to the air again.”

The SAR Techs hiked approximately 500 metres before arriving at the patient, who had suffered extensive injuries in the 40-foot fall.

“Fortunately, the patient’s leg had got caught between some rocks, and this prevented him from going down the rocky stream any further,” said Sgt. Dwayne Guay, SAR Tech. “When we arrived, he had already been stabilized by his climbing partner, who was a doctor.”

Despite the narrow canyon, the Cormorant’s flight crew positioned the helicopter overhead and within 10 minutes, the patient and fellow climber were hoisted aboard.

The patient was flown to Trail in stable condition, where he was subsequently transferred into the care of EHS. The injured climber’s condition is unknown at this time.

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.

— 19 Wing Comox

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