Grand Forks, Okanagan search and rescue teams helped RCMP at Bridesville airlift

Twelve volunteers provided frontline assistance, according to Grand Forks Search and Rescue

  • Dec. 3, 2020 12:00 a.m.

Search and rescue teams from Grand Forks and the Okanagan played a significant role in Tuesday night’s emergency airlift in Bridesville, British Columbia.

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Erin Peach, manager at Grand Forks Search and Rescue (SAR), said her team was called to assist Midway RCMP Tuesday evening, after Mounties chased a burglary suspect into a steep ravine along Rock Creek. Midway RCMP Cpl. Phil Peters apprehended the suspect with the aid of a Bridesville civilian at around 5 p.m., by which point the suspect was suffering from acute hypothermia.

With nightfall approaching, police requested assistance from Grand Forks and Oliver-Osoyoos SAR teams, whose volunteers helped Peters look after the suspect while a military SAR squadron launched an airlift from Comox.

Oliver-Osoyoos Search and Rescue volunteers set up an alpine rope system in case Tuesday night’s emergency airlift failed. Photo courtesy of Grand Forks Search and Rescue

Grand Forks Fire and Rescue volunteers helped Midway RCMP look after a hypothermia-stricken man arrested at the bottom of a steep ravine near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of Grand Forks Search and Rescue

Grand Forks SAR members are trained to effect helicopter rescues, but Peach said only military pilots are allowed to fly night rescues under Transport Canada regulations.

“It’s a super high-risk activity to be flying a helicopter at night above a canyon with people below,” she said.

There are around 30 volunteer members on Grand Forks SAR, according to Peach. Twelve of them participated in Tuesday’s rescue, along with two members of from Oliver-Osoyoos SAR.

“We’re all volunteers,” Peach said. “We do it because we want to help people.”

@ltritsch1laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.caLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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