February 12, 2014 - 10:03 AM
KAMLOOPS — It wasn't a typical call for Kamloops Search and Rescue on Monday, but teams decided a stranded deer on Kamloops Lake near Tobiano was an opportunity to complete specialty swift water and rope training.
Training was not planned for Family Day, but Search Manager Alan Hobler says when they received a call that a fawn was having a hard time on the ice the impromptu training exercise was put into action. Only a select group of members were invited because they didn't want too many people working near the ice.
“There are weak patches on ice. It can be 6-8 inches thick and suddenly a spot can be half an inch thick,” he says. “We took all the precautions... they were in cold weather suits, they were tethered, extra flotation....”
The rescue took place east of the boat launch at Tobiano and crews had to hike with all the gear about a kilometre before even setting out on the ice to reach the young deer.
Hobler notes the crew does get a lot of calls for lost cats and dogs as well and while they don't usually conduct animal rescues this one offered the perfect opportunity to train crews in skills that don't often get utilized in our region.
“Ice rescues are very rare, it's exceedingly rare in the Kamloops area,” Hobler says. “It does happen around the province, especially with snowmobilers more comfortable riding on the ice.... but if it's in the city limits Kamloops Fire attends.”
He notes people falling through the ice can become hypothermic in minutes and some will even suffer a heart attack because of the extreme cold. Even with these risks to the victim taking care of the team safety is always considered a priority and the deer gave them the perfect chance to practice putting backup systems in place for the swift water and rope rescue specialty teams..
“A big part of it is taking care of our own safety,” Hobler says.
While the training session was deemed a success the young fawn was not as fortunate as the deer rescued from Okanagan Lake in Vernon on Monday. It was in extreme distress after being on the ice so long and had to be put down.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014