Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)

Search and rescue personnel were able to help get an injured hiker down from the top of Mt. Benson before a snow storm arrived last night.

Nanaimo Search and Rescue crews, with help from Arrowsmith Search and Rescue and CFB Comox’s 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, were able to rescue a man who had sustained a serious upper-body injury and bring him far enough down the mountain to reach a waiting ambulance Saturday, Jan. 23.

Eugene Touchette, search manager with Nanaimo SAR, said crews had just helped another hiker farther down the mountain when the call came in for the injured hiker at the top.

Usually, he said, rescuers can get vehicles all the way to the summit via the service road, but with recent weather – snow melting and then freezing – “the entire top of the mountain has become glare ice.”

Crews had GPS co-ordinates and knew where to go, but it was slow progress. Once they reached the patient, as assessment was made that due to his condition, combined with the grades on that part of the mountain and the approaching weather system, that a helicopter extraction was in order.

“With his injuries it was essential that we got him out before the storm came in. It wasn’t a shelter-in-place situation. We were concerned with the weather system and how we would even be able to extract him this morning with the conditions changing as well as the potential for going into shock,” Touchette said.

Once air support arrived, however, cloud cover made such an operation impossible for the Cormorant helicopter. Instead, the fixed-wing Buffalo aircraft circled, lighting the night sky with flares to assist rescuers on the mountainside below.

Touchette said SAR’s rope team used fixed ropes to get down steep pitches before all involved were able to hike to a UTV, which brought them to a truck, and then to an ambulance at about 11:30 p.m., some six and a half hours after the initial call came in. For search and rescuers, their day didn’t end until 2 a.m. – COVID-19 protocols demanded full sanitization of equipment so as to be prepared for the next call.

Touchette said he hopes a takeaway from Saturday’s incidents will be the importance of trip planning and preparation – he suggests http://adventuresmart.ca as a resource. He also reminds people to look at weather forecasts.

“The top of the mountain is the first place that the weather goes bad,” he said. “It might be nice in town, but if you look at the mountain, the weather could change very quickly.”

READ ALSO: Nanaimo Search and Rescue launches ‘Rescue Our Rescuer’ for deputy chief who has cancer

READ ALSO: Nanaimo Search and Rescue wants to get started with rebuilding base



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

rescueSearch and Rescue

Just Posted

North Island Gazette
EDITORIAL: What to do about homelessness in Port Hardy

‘people suffering from homelessness deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion’

North Island Eagles logo
North Island Eagles give update on the upcoming 2021-2022 season

The North Island Eagles minor rep hockey teams are getting ready for… Continue reading

Ma Murrays 2021 virtual ceremony screenshot
North Island Gazette wins big at 2021 Ma Murray Newspaper Awards

Zoe Ducklow and Bill McQuarrie both won gold at the online ceremony

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, June 13. Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 250-949-6335. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Firefighters respond to early morning fire near visitor centre in Port Hardy

Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 4 deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Most Read