Date: June 17, 2012
Lat/Long: N 49 deg 24.39’ W 123 deg 05.30’
On Fathers Day NSR was requested by BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) to respond to a seriously injured fallen climber on Crown Mountain near Grouse. The initial information suggested a 300 meter fall with unknown serious injuries. This was later updated to conscious but with a serious fracture of the leg. Given the serious and unknown extent of injuries, NSR deployed its Helicopter External Transport Team while ground teams were simultaneously dispatched to back up the flight team.
Flight teams initially departed from Bone Creek SAR base, and proceeded up the Hanes Valley through Crown Pass. After a short air search, the subject and his 3 companions were located on a steep snow slope between cliff bands. With a low cloud ceiling and marginal weather, it was decided to immediately head to the Capilano SAR base and rig the aircraft for a longline rescue. Concurrent to the recon flight, the BCAS S76 air ambulance had also arrived at the Capilano SAR base near Cleveland Dam.
After a quick briefing, a tandem rescue team was inserted via longline to the site. The pilot was able to stay just under the clouds and bring the rescuers through the tress onto the slope about 20 meters below the subject. Almost as soon as the helicopter had departed, the clouds descended precluding any immediate heli-evac. This was no simple feat, and the success of the insertion can only be credited to terrific piloting skill. With feet on the ground, rescuers disconnected from the line and secured their equipment on the steep slope. One member of the flight team immediately climbed up to the subject, created an anchor, and began raising equipment up to the site. Due to the terrain, it was necessary to dig a platform before beginning any treatment. As such, the rescue team worked fast to build a safe platform big enough to hold the patient and the rescuers. The subject was then moved to the platform where his wet clothes were removed, his leg was assessed, and a splint was applied. Collecting information on scene, it was determined that the reasonably well-equipped group had been crossing a snow slope approximately 200 feet above, when the subject had lost his footing, falling on steep snow and rock. He came to rest in a gap, also called a moat, between a steep snow slope and a creek. Had he not ended up here, the fall would have continued for many more hundreds of feet.
Prior to beginning any advanced treatment, a short reprieve in the weather required rapid packaging. With just a few minutes, the rescuers were able to package the patient and extract him to the waiting air ambulance at Cleveland Dam with one rescuer. The other rescuer remained on the ground with the subject’s companions, where the clouds again descended. While all this was going on, another HETS team had been inserted into the Crown Pass area with survival and mountain rescue equipment. One member had made his way to the accident site shortly after the subject’s extraction. A ground team also arrived on scene to assist awhile later.
Having assessed the weather, it was decided to descend to a lower elevation where the helicopter could make a pickup. After a relatively short descent, the subject’s companions and the rescuers were extracted from the Crown Pass area via helicopter hover entry.
Had the weather not cleared when it did, this call would have required 50 or more SAR members with extensive equipment to evacuate the patient. This could have taken well into the next day. Although well within the abilities of the team, with such a serious injury, this was a very unfavourable option. Luckily the subject had a short ride to the hospital.