Terrace Search and Rescue (SAR) is partnering with the local branch of Yellowhead Helicopters Ltd. to train and operate for any potential rescue missions in the region.
On May 9, four SAR team members practiced ‘Class D’ rescues across the Skeena River. Class D is defined as flying human cargo underneath a helicopter with a rope.
Jephson, SAR vice-president, says that a rescue mission requiring Class D can be tricky and it’s important to establish a concrete understanding between rescuers and pilots for it to be properly conducted during an emergency situation.
“It’s about orientation, we know what the pilot is thinking and they know where they can push us… What we want to ensure is that we have a team that is eligible, capable and can do this task safely,” Jephson says. “We went through these motions with Yellowhead, to make sure the paperwork is in place, that safety is in place and just get us flying in the air.”
Their routine training with Yellowhead Helicopters will improve quicker response times and tighten rescue protocol. Previously, SAR relied on different helicopter contractors in the area to assist during calls but it ran the risk of delaying a rescue if none were readily available or familiar with procedures.
Jeff Patmore, BALL., says he’s happy to have the opportunity to give back to the community as it can be very difficult and expensive for a non-profit organization like SAR to hire a helicopter, especially for training. By donating their time and aircraft, it strengthens the rescue team by alleviating any potential issues on call.
“Rescues like this are very important in our region due to the inaccessibility of the terrain, most times the roads don’t go where the people are injured,” he says. “[It’s] typically a lot of back-country skiers, climbers, mountain-bikers who like to go in very remote areas, away from the general public and road system.”
Patmore adds they have multiple branches across the province who are also partnering with their local rescue teams as awareness rises for the need.
“I think it’s very important to work with [SAR] for the simple fact that it is a non-profit organization that requires or relies on other business to help pitch in and do the work with them.”
In the wake of last year’s LNG announcement, a population boom in the Terrace area is expected. Jephson says already they are receiving more emergency calls that are industry-related as many workers frequent high-risk, isolated environments.
“What’s going on in the region is crazy, we’re being impacted already,” he says. “We’ve noticed different calls from different people out of town.”
Ideally, he hopes to secure relations with bigger companies, like LNG itself, to work together and help sponsor any possible emergency situations that may arise. SAR runs on donations and volunteers to operate, which he says may become a struggle if they’re responding to more industry-related rescues that require specialized knowledge.
“We want to make sure we’re ready for all the different projects… we’re seeing more workers working in the field, it’s only a matter of time that they are going to be rescued and we’re doing everything we can to make sure we prepare for that.”
As the SAR headquarters is being built for this summer and their need to expand grows, Terrace SAR has been working more closely with SAR in Prince Rupert and Kitimat to ensure all teams can meet regional demands. They often share resources and hold group training sessions.
Partnerships similar to Yellowhead Helicopters Ltd. are crucial and vital for SAR to carry on their work, Jephson says, and if any business has a way to support or fund their rescue organization — it could help save a life.
Want to donate or know more? Find Terrace SAR on Facebook or email them at terraceSARhall@gmail.com