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Hiker airlifted from Sarita Falls after 9-metre fall

AVRS, Arrowsmith SAR and 442 Sqn. worked together to rescue injured man
Search and rescue technicians from 442 Squadron at !9 Wing Comox secure an injured hiker in a stretcher with assistance from an Arrowsmith SAR volunteer (centre) in preparation of airlifting the man to hospital. (PHOTO COURTESY ARROWSMITH SAR)

Volunteer rescuers from Alberni Valley and Arrowsmith SAR units saved a hiker suffering from significant injuries over the May long weekend.

The Alberni Valley Rescue Squad was tasked at 5:45 p.m. by RCMP on Sunday, May 22 to rescue a male who had fallen approximately nine metres (30 feet) at Sarita Falls, east of Mount Blenheim off the Bamfield Main Road.

The RCMP ascertained from a friend of the injured party that the man had suffered serious injuries, AVRS spokesperson Richard Johns said. West Coast Helicopters airlifted volunteer medics to the scene, and Arrowsmith SAR’s ropes team was called in to assist. The ropes team had to drive to get close to the site after nightfall grounded the helicopter.

When the teams arrived on scene the injured person’s friends had been able to bring him to a logging road near the area he had fallen, using a small inflatable boat as a stretcher, Arrowsmith SAR search manager Ken Neden confirmed. Because it was getting dark search managers decided to ask for assistance from 442 Squadron at 19 Wing Comox; a military flight crew was able to land a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter nearby and airlift the injured man to hospital.

“Due to nightfall, volunteers were no longer able to fly and it was deemed that travel to a hospital by road would be extremely painful for the subject and could cause further health issues,” Johns said.

He added that a backup communication device “made all the difference” in rescuing the hiker so quickly.

This was the second rescue of the day for Arrowsmith SAR, which had been called out at 2 p.m. to rescue an injured mountain biker who had taken a fall on the trails near Cook Creek Road. Members reached the injured man in a utility terrain vehicle and transport him on a stretcher to a waiting air ambulance.

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