Coquitlam Search and Rescue team say red tape prevents them from using Long Lines

Long Line rescues are an essential tool for Search and Rescue crews, as they are often forced to rescue someone from the air.

But Coquitlam Search and Rescue manager Al Hurley says they can’t use their Long Line equipment because of some bureaucratic red tape.

Hurley says last April, 13 members were certified to use the Long Line equipment, and they were given a loaner kit while their new kit was being manufactured.

“While that process was going on, Transport Canada and the manufacturer started talking, and it turns out that after a certain date, he [the manufacturer] wasn’t certified any longer to make the equipment,” says Hurley.

“So now it’s been this lengthy process of getting the re-certification, getting the existing kits that are out there in the field tested, re-certified, documented, so all the things have to be blue printed, everything down to the stitch count of the type of threads they use, the type of hardware, it has to be documented signed off by Transport Canada engineers, then the kits have to be tested for conformity,” adds Hurley. “Do the kits match the documents? Do they match the destructive testing? So that they can say these are safe to go.”

Story continues below advertisement

The team has the equipment and the certified team members, but they can’t use the equipment yet.

“There always seem to be one more thing to add or change,” says Hurley.

The equipment itself hasn’t changed, but the Authorized Certification Certificate was no longer valid.

North Shore Rescue is one of the seven or eight teams who had kits made before this deadline, and those kits have been given extensions for re-certification.

Hurley says he does not think it is an issue of safety, but it’s a matter of meeting testing requirements and documentation.

Coquitlam Search and Rescue had to call North Shore Rescue out for help recently because a Long Line rescue was needed and they do not have the equipment.

“They’re a very busy team, they have their own calls and might not be available, then we’d have to go further afield, out to Central Fraser Valley or to Blackcomb to bring in other crews and they’re even further away,” says Hurley.

“Very frustrating and very nerve-wracking,” he adds.

Ground search team leader and the current team president of Coquitlam Search and Rescue, Bob Hetherington, says this tool is probably their most important one, and it can be a safety issue for the members as they have to hike in and out after already being out in the wilderness for hours.

Story continues below advertisement

“Number one, getting a subject out, whether they’re injured or not, you know, broken ankle, broken leg or just twisted, it gets them out much safer than having to lug a stretcher down a mountain where you need minimum six people. It’s also a rescue tool for our team members.”

– With files from Jill Bennett.