Hunter rescued off island coast

A hunter is evacuated from a remote inlet on Brooks Peninsula and flown to Port Hardy.

PORT HARDY—The crew of an RCAF Cormorant helicopter evacuated a hunter in possible medical distress from a remote inlet on Brooks Peninsula, northern Vancouver Island, early Saturday morning.

Canadian Coast Guard radio received a call for help from a hunting party late evening Friday, May 31, which was passed to Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria. After consulting with Port Alice RCMP and BC Ambulance, a 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron Cormorant was launched from 19 Wing Comox to perform the medical evacuation.

Flying through snow-showers and with limited visibility, the Cormorant crew arrived on-scene shortly after midnight.

“We had a latitude and longitude for the location, but the weather was very poor. Fortunately the hunting party set up a signal fire that we could see through our night vision goggles,” said Captain Jeff Barth, first officer, who was performing his first search and rescue mission as a newly graduated Cormorant pilot.

The crew had to make three low passes over the inlet before finding a safe area to hoist in the Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs).

“We were finally able to spot a location along an ATV trail, but the nearby trees made the hoist operation challenging,” said Captain Jean Leroux, aircraft commander. “The SAR Techs were hoisted 80 feet to the trail below and prepared the hunter for evacuation via rescue litter.”

After the hunter was hoisted into the helicopter, he was flown to Port Hardy where he was transferred to a waiting BC Ambulance for transport to hospital. His present 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 Armed Forces may, however, provide assistance to land and inland water rescues when possible.