Summer is here and that means busy days for Campbell River Search and Rescue (CRSAR).
This past weekend required CRSAR volunteers to be dispatched to two calls, the seventh and eighth since May 1.
“This time of year we pretty much expect 3-4 calls a week for SAR events,” Grant Cromer, CRSAR manager, said in a media release.
On Saturday, a hiker struck by a falling rock and his companion stranded the north side of Myra Creek in Strathcona Provincial Park had to signal to people on the side of the creek accessible by a public trail in order to get help.
Help came in the form of CRSAR helicopter and land-based teams.
“On Saturday we had a call to respond to what was initially reported as an injured hiker suffering from a head injury after falling near Myra Falls in Strathcona Park,” Cromer said. “Initial reports led us to believe pair of hikers were trapped on the far side of Myra Creek near the lower pool after receiving a head injury from swimming near the falls. We anticipated a worst case scenario for this particular area and dispatched a rope rescue and swift water rescue team by ground and sent an advanced medical rescue team in by helicopter to get an assessment of the scene first.”
The medical rescue team was able to land near the subjects and determine one male had non-life threatening injuries and the other was uninjured. Both males were loaded into the helicopter and flow to a landing zone close by where they were met by ground SAR teams and then transferred to BCAS.
“This one turned out well and it could have been much worse with the location being as it was, in the end, the two males had been hiking on a ridge above Buttle Lake and become lost, descended down to the lake near the falls and had dislodged a rock which struck one of the males in the head, they then made their way to Myra Falls and signalled to people at the falls they needed assistance,” Cromer said.
This was the second of two calls for assistance from CRSAR on the weekend. On Sunday July 8, they received a call for assistance from a group of five hikers on Brooks Peninsula, a very remote area of Vancouver Island off the west coast.
The report was that they had missed their scheduled pick up with a water taxi and were left stranded; they didn’t have enough food and water to make it to a suitable pick up point and signalled for help.
“We were fighting daylight on this call, in order to get a rescue team in by helicopter we have to use Zeballos as a base which means transporting subjects back and forth from Brooks Peninsula,” Cromer said. “Combined with refuelling breaks/flight time we would have run out of daylight, so we opted to send just the pilot in with an empty machine, this allowed us to transport five out in one flight rather than leave our members on the beach overnight.
“We use very experienced pilots who are familiar with SAR operations and in this case it was the best option. The subjects were picked up and released to the RCMP in Port McNeill.”
Overall CRSAR expects a very busy summer. Medical rescues and lost/overdue hikers make up the bulk of their summer calls. The technology today with cell phones, Personal Locator Beacons and satellite phones make it easier for subjects to get hold of SAR in an emergency and it makes it easier for CRSAR to find them.
“We spend less time looking for people in the backcountry and more time rescuing them, which is the general provincial trend in the last five years,” Cromer said. “We are well prepared for medical rescues in the summer months and we have a very good response protocol. We generally have to access most of these calls by helicopter and send in three advanced medical care members who stabilize subjects and often load them in the helicopter or package them for ground evacuation.
“We have a very comprehensive backcountry medical response kit that allows us to stabilize and treat most any injury we come across.”