Search and rescue teams from the Sunshine Coast and North Shore, assisted by Talon Helicopters, were needed to rescue a woman who broke her leg while descending the Elphinstone Summit Trail on Tuesday afternoon.
The woman, in her mid fifties, fell on the trail about two-thirds of the way down. “It’s fairly steep trails with some loose rock. She was an experienced hiker – something went wrong,” said Alec Tebbutt of Sunshine Coast ground Search and Rescue (SAR).
Sunshine Coast SAR was dispatched at approximately 4 p.m.
After assessing the difficulty of the trail and observing the severity of the woman’s injury and pain, the SAR crew “realized a helicopter extraction would be so much faster,” said Tebbutt, and so they coordinated with North Shore SAR.
The Talon helicopter, contracted by North Shore SAR, is equipped with special features that allow for what’s called a “long line extraction” – when attendants are hooked up to a thick cable that extends from the helicopter and are dropped into challenging terrain to remove a patient.
The Sunshine Coast SAR team placed the woman into a stretcher and carried her approximately 100 metres up the trail and cleared brush to allow the helicopter to “thread the needle with that line,” Tebbutt said, adding, “It’s gotta be pretty precise.”
The helicopter dropped the patient off at the base of the mountain and SAR carried her to a waiting ambulance, which transferred her to Sechelt Hospital, where they attended to the broken bones in her leg and heel. She was admitted at approximately 8:30 p.m.
“With daylight as it was, we just barely got her out,” said Tebbutt.
The rescued woman and her husband, originally from England and living in Vancouver, are planning to move to Roberts Creek. They were hiking the trail with two friends visiting from England.
Tebbutt said the joint rescue went smoothly, with the added advantage of a paramedic forming part of the SAR team that attended the accident. She could administer painkillers, which other SAR members don’t have the qualifications for. “The woman was in a great deal of pain,” said Tebbutt.