Six RCMSAR Shuswap Station 106 volunteers were awarded the National Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Operational Merit Medal for their help in rescuing a 68-year-old hiker who fell off of a cliff on Sept. 9, 2020. (Facebook)

Shuswap search and rescue volunteers receive medal for life-saving mission

Rescue effort focused on 68-year-old hiker who fell 10 metres off a cliff

  • Sep. 21, 2021 12:00 a.m.

A fall from a cliff on a water-access only trail last year left a 68-year-old hiker with life-threatening injuries.

Six Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) Shuswap Station 106 volunteers recently received special recognition for their role in the rescue effort that helped save the hiker’s life.

Fred Banham, Bruce Weicker, Allen Langworth, Marie Gray, Norma Leslie and Michael Dupuis were the Station 106 volunteers who came to the hiker’s aid after their fall.

At a Sept. 18 RCMSAR provincial annual general meeting, it was announced those six volunteers were awarded the National Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA) Operational Merit Medal for their critical role in the rescue of the hiker.

According to the CCGA, the Operational Merit Medal is awarded in recognition of superior skill in performing an assist, rescue, or other meritorious operational service. It recognizes deeds performed in an outstanding professional manner that bring considerable benefit to the accomplishment of a mission.

According to Station 106 leader Rob Sutherland, Station 106’s fast-response vessel, Tolonen, with a four-person crew and two paramedics on board, responded to a call for aid north of Murdock Point on Shuswap Lake on Sept. 9, 2020. Two Station 106 volunteers were nearby on personal watercraft, and also responded to the call, providing first aid until paramedics arrived.

A hiker had slipped and fallen about 10 metres off a cliff, and sustained life-threatening injuries. Tolonen’s crew brought it within seven-metres of the hiker and rescue operations began.

A BCEHS helicopter brought in advanced care paramedics to a nearby landing zone, and the Tolonen crew then brought them to the accident scene as well. Due to the seriousness of the incident, two RCMP officers also attended on their own vessel.

The hiker was assessed, treated, sedated and packaged by paramedics. It was determined speed was of the essence in saving their life, and it was determined water was the fastest way to transport them. So, Station 106 volunteers led a carry of the hiker to the Tolonen.

Station 106 volunteers transported the hiker to Sicamous via the Tolonen, where an air ambulance was waiting. The hiker was taken to a trauma centre, and eventually made a full recovery.

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