Search and rescue go back to class for new skills
With longer days and warmer temperatures you can be sure that the North Shore Mountains will be rapidly filling up with hikers, snowshoers and backpackers.
When this happens, a small percentage of those outdoorsy types will get into trouble and need rescuing.
With that in mind, members of a number of different search and rescue agencies got together on Sunday to hone their skills.
The men and women of Lions Bay Search and Rescue, Coquitlam Search and Rescue, and North Shore Search and Rescue gathered at a remote North Vancouver location to brush up on a specialized rescue technique -- helicopter long-line rescues.
Tim Jones of North Shore Search and Rescue described situations to those gathered when up to 40 people have needed evacuation from remote danger zones.
North Shore Rescue use this technique all the time, most recently last week, when three e-com technicians were plucked off Bowen Island using a rope, a harness and a helicopter.
While this is ticklish work for the pilot and the S.A.R. planner, all the person being rescued has to do is relax, follow instructions and enjoy the ride.
This time, the crews learned about carrying out long-line rescues using two helicopters operating simultaneously.
"The reason we're doing this is because we had situations where we've evacuated 13 or 14 people via long line," said Jones. "It's taken a long time, but we had a lot of light. Now we're working on the premise is that we may not have a lot of light or the weather. You can't do it with one helicopter. You'll need two helicopters, maybe even three."
Sunday's exercise went flawlessly, with different members of different organizations taking their turn at the end of the rope, all choreographed with a series of hand signals.
By adding this technique to their arsenal, The Lower Mainland's local rescue organizations are even better prepared to do their part, provided you do yours.
"We like to remind people that if you are going [into the backcountry] at any time of year to tell people where you are going, and what time you are going to be back," said Ian Cunnings of the Provincial Emergency Program.
"Make sure you have the appropriate equipment, so that if search and rescue is required from B.C. Ambulance or local police at least we have a starting point to come and look for you."
With a report by CTV British Columbia's David Kincaid.