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Volunteers and a helicopter rescue camper from Gambier Island

Sunshine Coast SAR and North Shore Rescue were called to attend a camper with a possibly broken ankle at Gambier Lake.
Volunteer in harness to be hoisted down to Gambier Lake
On April 16, North Shore Rescue helped an injured camper on Gambier Island.

In just three days, Search and Rescue volunteers responded to two calls for help on the Sunshine Coast for separate leg injuries. 

A helicopter and the North Shore Rescue (NSR) team was called in on April 16 after a camper at Gambier Lake reported a possibly broken ankle that couldn’t bear any weight and appeared deformed. 

The Sunshine Coast SAR team was called first, but quickly alerted the Emergency Coordination Centre that NSR would be required to respond immediately, SAR manager Alec Tebbutt told Coast Reporter. While it takes the Sunshine Coast SAR team about four hours to access Gambier Lake on Gambier Island by the ground, NSR was able to respond in about 40 minutes from takeoff to landing with the injured person at Lions Gate Hospital, Scott Merriman of NSR said.

Rescuers weren’t able to contact the camping group for more details, since cell reception was limited in the area, but eventually were able to get a response to a text with a link that provided specific coordinates. The injured woman was on a different side of the lake than originally thought. 

When the helicopter arrived, there was nowhere to land nearby. Instead, the five NSR volunteers used a hoist to get to the patient. They were lowered, packaged the camper’s leg and hoisted her into the helicopter to transport her back to the Lower Mainland. 

“We appreciate that Sunshine Coast SAR gave us the heads up pretty early and it worked out best for the patient that way,” Merriman said. 

Another injury

Earlier in the week, on Thursday April 14, Sunshine Coast SAR received a call after a mountain biker fell and broke her lower leg while on a trail near the Sechelt Airport. 

Seventeen Sunshine Coast SAR members responded to assess the woman and lift her out with a stretcher to a waiting ambulance. 

“It went pretty smoothly, but she was in quite a bit of pain,” Tebbutt said. People don't always know how severe an injury is when it happens, he added. This particular break required surgery in Vancouver - but the biker and those she was with didn't call 911 when she was injured. 

Tebbutt wants to remind the public to call for help when they are hurt. 

"This is what we're here for," he said. "If we're not really needed, we can probably still be of help. We've got all the equipment and the training to do it as well and as safely and get the person out of there as quickly as possible."