NEAR SICAMOUS – Twice in two days Vernon Search and Rescue (VSAR) helicopter crews came to the aid of snowmobilers in trouble near Sicamous.
Just before 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Shuswap Search and Rescue was called to help a man who was believed to have a spinal injury. Search and rescue volunteers looked for the man on foot and also called in VSAR, which has access to a helicopter.
“[The helicopter] was by far his best alternative. If we had to put him on a toboggan and put him behind a snowmobile to take him out of that terrain, it would have been pretty hard on him. He could have ended up being paralyzed. So we are really pleased that the helicopter was able to pull him out of there,” says search manager with Shuswap Search and Rescue, John Schut.
Schut says ground crews were just in the process of heading up to the area when they got word that the helicopter was able to pick up the patient. He was flown back to Vernon and taken to hospital. VSAR says he was able to move all his extremities.
The next day search and rescue crews got another call to the same area at almost the same time of day. This time it was to help a snowmobiler with chest pains who may have suffered a heart attack in the Owlhead area.
VSAR says he was also pickup by helicopter and taken to hospital.
But Schut says backcountry enthusiasts shouldn’t count on being rescued by helicopter in every situation.
“In both cases… there was just a window of opening that allowed the helicopter to come in and pick these two fellows up so I think they can count themselves quiet fortunate that they were able to be rescued through a helicopter,” he says.
He says the helicopter can’t fly in the dark and on Monday they had a very limited window to do their work.
“They had six minutes to package the patient and take him away before the cut off line for daylight,” says Schut.
In both cases Shuswap Search and Rescue sent out ground crews to serve as a backup if the helicopter was not able to pick up the snowmobiliers.