Current Conditions

Sunny
22.0°C

Two snowmobilers, two separate rescues for search teams in the Shuswap

Members of Shuswap Search and Rescue were called out to the Owl's Head Recreation Area twice from Dec. 27-28 for reports of snowmobilers in distress.
Image Credit: John Schut
December 29, 2015 - 11:30 AM

SHUSWAP - Every minute of daylight counted as search and rescue crews raced to the aid of two snowmobilers during two separate incidents in the Shuswap this week.

The first call came in around 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, with a report of an injured snowmobiler, possibly with a fractured spine, at Blue Lake near the Owl’s Head Recreation Area outside Sicamous. Shuswap Search and Rescue manager John Schut says the the helicopter winch rescue team from Vernon was contacted immediately for mutual aid.

“The terrain was very treacherous. It’s a steep descent into Blue Lake. We would’ve had to pull the patient on a toboggan up a steep grade — he could have been possibly paralyzed by the time we got him back. His best case scenario was to be picked up by a helicopter,” Schut says.

While a crew was dispatched from Vernon Search and Rescue, Schrut’s team got ground troops ready in case the helicopter couldn’t respond due to snowy weather conditions and poor visibility.

“There just happened to be a clearing for them to come,” Schut says.

The patient was picked up by the helicopter and airlifted to hospital. According to Leigh Pearson, with Vernon Search and Rescue, the transport went well and while the patient did suffer a back injury, there was no sign of paralysis.

“A case like that you can never be too careful,” Pearson says. “Whenever there’s a broken bone of any kind, the option if we do not have a helicopter is to carry them out in a toboggan and it’s just misery for the poor injured person.”

Search and rescue was called out the very next day, Dec. 28, to another snowmobile incident in the same general area. This time, the patient was located at Morton Peak, about 15 km south east of Sicamous in the Owl’s Head Recreation Area. Reports state the man had suffered a possible heart attack. Due to the remote location, Shuswap Search and Rescue again requested assistance from the Vernon helicopter team.

“We had reports there was fog up there but somehow the helicopter managed to get in,” Schut says. “They had to package up the patient in six minutes and get out of there because darkness was coming in.”

In both cases, rescuers were under the gun to retrieve the patient and get back to the airstrip in Vernon before darkness fell.

“We must be back on the ground before dark, and because of the time these calls came in there were zero spare minutes,” Pearson says.

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter is part of a two-year pilot project between Emergency Management B.C., Vernon SAR and Wildcat Helicopters Inc., based in West Kelowna.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

  • Popular kelowna News
  • Comments
  • How Vernon residents are spreading community spirit one painted rock at a time
    VERNON - Located on a nondescript side street in Vernon sits a landmark known by all the neighbourhood kids as ‘The Wishing Tree.’ A little wooden sign describing it as such has
  • Police seek missing North Okanagan teen
    VERNON – RCMP are looking for the public’s help finding a missing 16-year-old North Okanagan girl. Ebony Holmgren was last seen on June 16 in the 11000 block of Tassie Drive in C
  • Depp's 'assassin' comments the latest in celebrity anger
    NEW YORK - Johnny Depp apologized Friday for joking about assassinating Donald Trump during an appearance at a large festival in Britain, the latest example of artists using violent imagery when d
  • Heat wave expected across Interior this weekend
    The Interior is going to be hit by a heat wave. Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement warning about hot weather across the Southern Interior, including the South Thompson
  • Okanagan cherry season is underway
    KELOWNA - Nothing quite says summer in the Okanagan than eating ripe, juicy cherries until your hands are stained red and your stomach is aching it’s so full. Lucky for us, that time is now.
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile