Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue and a helicopter crew from the 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Comox were called out Feb. 12 to get an injured person out of Tetrahedron Provincial Park, but the operation wasn’t completed until the next morning because of weather conditions.
Bruce Mitchell of Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue said they were called Wednesday night to respond to reports of a female with a broken leg and a team went into the cabin at Batchelor Lake to assess the situation.
“We looked at all our options and one of the options was to attempt to extract her that night, and that’s what we attempted,” Mitchell said. “We used 442 Squadron because they’re the only operation that is authorized to fly in the dark.”
Mitchell said the helicopter crew dropped in two SAR techs, but while they were getting the patient ready to move a fog rolled in and the helicopter had to return to Comox.
442 Squadron dispatched another helicopter Thursday morning and according to Mitchell, “they managed to get one little window where they could get in and do their extraction.”
BC Emergency Health Services has confirmed that a paramedic crew met the 442 Squadron helicopter at the Vancouver airport around 9:45 Thursday morning and transferred the patient, who was in stable condition, to hospital.
SAR manager Alec Tebbutt told Coast Reporter that the injured person was a student with a school group from the Lower Mainland that was at the Batchelor Lake cabin, which was also being used by a group from Davis Bay Elementary.
Tebbutt said the adults with the two groups, which included people qualified in first aid, deserve a lot of credit for a quick response that helped save the girl’s life by getting her to safety before severe shock set in.
“They were not anywhere near the cabin when [the student] broke her leg and getting her to the cabin was not an easy task,” he said. “There is no stretcher at the cabin, so they got an aluminum ladder from the cabin, tied a mattress on it and then had everybody carrying that ladder with her on it to the cabin.”
“It’s not easy terrain,” Tebbutt added, noting that the group was doing all this on snowshoes.
Tebbutt said the girl was in severe pain and “if she’d gone into shock she could easily have died,” which is why Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue wanted to ensure they got her to hospital as soon as possible.
As well as 442 Squadron and the BC Ambulance Service, Tebbutt said Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue wants to recognize the members of Sunshine Coast Snow Seekers snowmobileclub, who were ready to offer help if needed, staff at Sechelt Hospital who were ready to coordinate sending up any necessary medication, and the BC Parks and Sunshine Coast Regional District staff who were involved.
“There was a lot of coordinating between all the groups on the coast to make it happen,” he said.
Tebbutt said he’s also extremely proud of the Sunshine Coast SAR team. “They worked so well together – in command and in the field.”
In a Facebook post Thursday afternoon Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue said, “With over 25 people at the cabin and our SAR teams working along side the SAR techs, it was a busy place with not much sleep. Thank you to the school groups and their chaperones for being champs last night and working with us to have the best possible outcome for the subject.”
There were no details released about the injured student’s hometown or age.