This has been another busy weekend for NSR with a Saturday Double Feature yesterday, and an encore this evening. Tonight at approximately 20:02, North Shore Rescue was activated by the Emergency Coordination Centre for a hiker in distress near the summit of Crown Mountain. Upon further investigation by NSR SAR managers, it was determined that one member of a two person hiking party was suffering from debilitating leg spasms, necessitating the other to physically carry their friend. Unfortunately, after unsuccessfully trying to get out on their own and with night fast approaching, they became stranded on a steep slope below crown, where they called 911.
Realizing that we had very little time to work with before dark, NSR initiated a two-pronged ground and air response. Members were dispatched up the Grouse Mountain tram as backup teams, while NSR HETS members prepped for a, potentially, one way helicopter trip into the field to attend to the subjects (who were very lightly equipped). Luckily, Talon Helicopters was able to scramble a helicopter very quickly which arrived on scene just minutes after crews were staged and ready to roll. This rapid response was assisted by local air traffic control who provided the SAR/medivac helicopter with priority clearance and a direct route to the scene. The AS355F2 TwinStar helicopter piloted by Kelsey Wheeler departed from Cap Gate with three members onboard carrying enough rescue equipment to spend the night and stabilize the subjects. Upon arriving on scene, it was quickly determined that due to the subjects precarious location and the remaining daylight, a single HETS evolution would be attempted.
Returning to base, NSR rapidly rigged the aircraft for HETS and was able to insert a single rescuer to the scene only minutes later. The NSR technician quickly assessed the subjects, and placed them into evacuation harnesses. Using a 150 foot longline, the rescuer and two subjects were extracted from the scene and brought back to the Capilano SAR station. After an assessment and debriefing, the subjects were driven back to their car at Grouse, where they released to seek medical treatment on their own.
This was a very close call, with the helicopter operations wrapping up only minutes before night time. This exemplifies two key points that we can’t emphasize enough:
CALL FOR RESCUE EARLY – If something has gone wrong, it is better to call us early and talk with a SAR manager about options. If you call late, you put your own and our lives at risk. We DO NOT charge for rescue, nor do we endorse it for this very reason.
Hydrate before your hike, and carry sufficient water, food and electrolytes with you on your hike. Muscle cramps can be debilitating, and dehydration can be life threatening in the backcountry.
Beyond this…please tell someone responsible where you are going, when to expect you back, and carry the 10 essentials including a headlamp. The subjects in this case, did not have sufficient light with them for this hike, and had to guide us in with their cellphones. Carrying the right gear, good footwear, and proper planning are key to having a safe and enjoyable hike. Please take a moment to brush up on what to bring, and how to access your location on your cell phone.