Art Timm waits to load onto a helicopter during an Arrowsmith Search and Rescue practice on Saturday, March 10. — Courtesy Arrowsmith SAR

Arrowsmith search and rescue members take on crevasse, heli training

New members take part in some weekend training, but Arrowsmith SAR always looking for more

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue has been practicing what to do when someone’s caught between a rock and… well, more rock.

That, and helicopter safety.

The SAR group spent Saturday, March 10, loading and unloading from a helicopter at up to 1,100 metres in the Mt. Arrowsmith area, and Sunday practicing rope rescues down a narrow rock crevasse on Little Mountain.

SunWest Helicopters took 13 Arrowsmith SAR members in five teams to three separate locations on March 10, said Arrowsmith SAR spokesperson Barry Blair.

“We try to practice that once a year,” said Blair. “I would say once or twice a year, there are some helicopter operations (that Arrowsmith SAR participates in),” he said.

The helicopter training entailed practicing how to safely load and unload from the vehicle with the blades still spinning, and testing an InReach GPS system, which can track an individual’s position and provide two-way testing anywhere in the world via satellite, Blair said.

SunWest Helicopters owner and pilot Brian Sallows, who took the SAR members on the training exercise, warns that the noise and look of the motors can be mesmerizing, but that passengers loading and unloading should focus on the pilot and do only one thing at a time, said Blair.

And stay close to the ground.

The March 11 training saw approximately 20 people, including new Arrowsmith SAR members and six members of Comox Valley SAR, practise rescuing a “patient” who had fallen 20 metres down a narrow rock crevice, “making the 60-kg stretcher raise quite difficult,” Blair said in an email.

“Two separate rope systems had to be set up and everyone had a part to play from the haul teams to the two people on the edge keeping an eye on the stretcher and attendant as they were pulled up.”

Blair noted that Arrowsmith SAR is always looking for new members, adding that those interested can get in contact via the group’s website:

Though the group is welcoming, Blair noted the selection process is strenuous.

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