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Woman with serious injuries airlifted from Nanaimo River

Nanaimo Search and Rescue assisted by North Shore Rescue Tuesday at swimming hole south of Nanaimo
Nanaimo Search and Rescue and North Shore Rescue were called by B.C. Ambulance for assistance to airlift an injured woman from the Nanaimo River to an ambulance Tuesday. (Photo: Holly Pulvermacher, Nanaimo Search and Rescue)

A woman was airlifted from Nanaimo River, via helicopter, to an ambulance after she was injured near a popular swimming hole Tuesday.

B.C. Ambulance Service, RCMP and other emergency services responded at about 4 p.m. Aug. 3, after the 47-year-old woman suffered, what Nanaimo RCMP described as, serious, but non life-threatening injuries after she fell or jumped into the river.

B.C. Ambulance called for assistance from Nanaimo Search and Rescue because of the victim’s location, about one kilometre down a difficult-to-navigate trail, that runs alongside the river, near an area known as Pink Rock.

Jacques Levesque, search-and-rescue manager with Nanaimo Search and Rescue, said after SAR technicians arrived on scene, the decision was made to call in a helicopter and long-line rescue team from North Shore search and rescue to lift the woman from the site to an ambulance that was staged at a landing zone set up in a nearby gravel pit.

“It was quite a long trail there, so it was easier to get her extracted by helicopter than walk with her on that trail, with a stretcher, with a wheel,” Levesque said. “We always focus on patient outcome and the best patient outcome was to extract her by helicopter, so we long-lined her from the riverside to a gravel pit … then we loaded her onto the ambulance.”

Levesque said the trail is wide, but there are steep sections and loose rock that would have necessitated setting up ropes and it would have been uncomfortable for the patient to be wheeled through the rough sections of trail and there was also concern about search-and-rescue techs slipping or tripping over loose rocks.

Richmond, B.C.-based Talon Helicopters was called upon to bring the North Shore SAR team over.

Levesque said the whole operation took about four hours. The patient was lifted out at about 7 p.m. and the total operation was completed by about 8:30 p.m.

He said SAR techs spoke to bystanders at the scene, who said the woman had jumped into the river, but suffered her injuries when she landed on some rocks. Bystanders had floated the victim from the south side of the river to its north side by the time first responders arrived.

Once aboard an ambulance the woman was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo SAR starts $2.6M makeover of Harewood HQ
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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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