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Vernon Search and Rescue deploys helicopter to injured hiker

Members practice helicopter winch rescues during a training day in September 2014.
April 08, 2015 - 1:00 PM

VERNON - A seriously injured hiker in Kimberly has Vernon Search and Rescue to thank for getting him to the hospital in record time.

Leigh Pearson, with Vernon SAR, says the group’s helicopter winch rescue team was deployed on Friday, April 3, for a mutual aid call in Kimberly. After navigating around some bad weather, Pearson says a nine person crew made it to the scene in about an hour.

When they arrived, rescuers already had the victim out of the bush and a helicopter winch removal was not necessary. Given the patient’s injuries, paramedics said he needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. The nearest facility equipped for his injuries was in Cranbrook — over two hours away by vehicle, Pearson says. Instead, the patient was loaded into the helicopter and dropped off at the hospital in 22 minutes. 

“In that aspect alone it was worthwhile to save this guy some agony, he was pretty hurt,” Pearson says.

This was the sixth time Vernon SAR has used its new helicopter since January, and the furthest it has flown for a call.

“It’s available wherever it’s required,” Pearson says. “We’ll go anywhere in the province with it.”

The resource came online in September 2014 and Pearson hopes to see it used as much as possible.

“It’s an amazing tool with all kinds of life support and very skilled people,” Pearson says.

Vernon SAR is the first in Canada to put the helicopter winch rescue into practice. As part of a two year pilot project, Wildcat Helicopters Inc. in West Kelowna is providing a helicopter from dawn to dusk every single day of the year, ready to be dispatched at a moment’s notice.

“It needs to be used more,” Pearson says. “I think it’s going to take a bit to catch on, but it will become the standard of care, I really do believe that.”

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

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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