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Okanagan snowmobiler rescued by helicopter after suffering back injury

An injured sledder was rescued from the area of Graystokes Provincial Park on Saturday. Courtesy: Air Rescue One

A man who suffered a back injury while snowmobiling in the Okanagan, on Saturday, is expected to recover after being rescued by helicopter.

Vernon Search and Rescue (VSAR) said the man compressed his lower back while snowmobiling with others in the area of Graystokes Provincial Park, northeast of Kelowna.

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A VSAR spokesperson believes having the helicopter available for the rescue helped ensure the patient wasn’t injured further during transport.

“It is a real blessing to have this helicopter with a winch capability for the terrain … it really contributed to this subject getting down off the mountain early and not having further back injury,” said VSAR search manager Trevor Honigman.

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“If you were forced to come down with a back injury off of a mountain on the back of a sled or on a spine board, the risk of doing more harm is great.”

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Rescue crews were dispatched just before noon on Saturday.

VSAR said because of the intensity of the back injury the rescuers opted to take the snowmobiler out by helicopter to ensure he wasn’t moved more than necessary.

“The helicopter was able to land relatively close to the subject which isn’t always the case. A lot of times this happens in terrain where we have to use the winch and we can’t actually land the helicopter,” Honigman said.

The patient was taken to the helicopter on a spine board and flown to the Vernon airport where a waiting ambulance took him to Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

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The rescue was a joint effort between VSAR, Central Okanagan Search and Rescue and Air Rescue One, VSAR’s helicopter winch rescue team operated in conjunction with Wildcat Helicopters.

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