July 31, 2014 2:16 am

Expensive rescue of drunk man from Wreck Beach raises questions

At most beaches in Vancouver, a drunk person in medical distress can be tended to quickly.

Not so at Wreck Beach.

A hovercraft and multiple RCMP officers, paramedics, and lifeguards were involved in transporting a drunk man from Wreck Beach, located on the edge of the University of British Columbia, to nearby Spanish Banks.

University Detachment RCMP Staff Sgt. Darren Malcolm says the move was necessary because there were fears the man was suffering from heat stroke, and the 500-stair trip up the trail would be too arduous.

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“It was necessary to bring the hovercraft. It’s the safest way to remove someone in medical distress. To hike someone up 500 steps, up pretty steep terrain, wouldn’t be quick.”

The number of people involved in the rescue was questioned by Wendy Sherlock, who filmed the man and officers arriving on Spanish Banks.

“That was a lot of resources involved in rescuing one person. We were quite surprised, as was everyone else around us,” she said.

The RCMP said they wouldn’t know the total cost of the rescue, but Dave Clark of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees said that it costs $900 to fuel up the hovercraft for a trip.

However, he said his main worry is one day seeing the hovercraft tied up on a small case when something larger happens.

“They don’t have a backup for it. When this hovercraft goes out for a rescue, it could jeopardize other rescues at the same time,” he said.

MORE: Fatal distress call re-opens debate on the closure of the Kitsilano coast guard station

“An expensive day. Very expensive for a person that purposely intoxicated themselves.”

The RCMP said that while it tied up a number of resources, it “goes with the territory”.

“We deal with intoxicated people a lot, and quite often that results in medical issues,” said Malcolm.

“In these case it was more the area where it happened, which required more resources.”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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