ENDERBY — A group of mountain bikers were lucky to have a cell phone, and reception, in a rural North Okanagan park Wednesday when one of them crashed and began to lose a lot of blood.
Vernon Search and Rescue manager Leigh Pearson says teams were called to Enderby Cliffs provincial park around 3:30 p.m. to assist in the rescue of the injured man, who was located near the summit.
Pearson says the rescue team had to make a quick decision on how to get up the mountain. "We had the option to access by foot, but that would have been challenging and time consuming; it's a very steep route," Pearson says, adding they would have had to carry the man back down the mountain on a stretcher.
That left ATV's—which would get them close, but still leave half a kilometre of on foot bush-wacking—or a helicopter.
"The helicopter was the best option," Pearson says. "There was a good spot for it to land close by."
Pearson says a few rescue members were familiar with the route, and based on a description from the wounded man's friends, they were able to land the helicopter within five minutes of the search.
"The man had a very significant wound on his leg, it was bleeding pretty badly," Pearson says. "His friends had bandaged it and put pressure on it which helped to stop the bleeding."
The man, who Pearson says is in his 20s, was transfered to the helicopter and flown down to the base of the mountain where an ambulance was waiting.
"I'm not sure how he crashed the bike, but he'll be okay, limping for a while, but back riding his bike eventually," Pearson says.
Given the remote location and the late afternoon timing, Pearson says it could have been a much worse situation had the group not had a cell phone.
"It was their saving grace," he says. "But what people don't realize is cells phones aren't infallible. As soon as you're out of the valley bottom, you can lose reception."
Before going out, Pearson says to make sure your cell is fully charged. He also says to let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back, in case you lose cell service.
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