Sep 30, 2012 / 11:05 am
Vernon Search and Rescue has received approximately $60,000 for their helicopter winch rescue pilot project.
On Saturday morning, Councilor Patrick Nichol ($20,000), Murray Smith from Vernon Rotary ($7500), Cheryl Schmidt from Kalamalka Rotary ($10,000), and Dominik Dloughy from Silver Star Rotary ($5000) presented cheques to the Vernon Search and Rescue to fund the project. An additional $7500 was provided by the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan and $10,000 from Search and Rescue.
“We have a form of helicopter rescue in the province called HETS (Helicopter External Transport System). That’s where you dangle everybody underneath the helicopter and move them to location to location. We’re developing a pilot project to use what’s called Helicopter Winch Rescue where the helicopter flies in using a winch on the side of the helicopter, you raise and lower then fly away. It’s safer, it’s faster with better outcomes for the patient,” said Don Blakely, director of Vernon Search and Rescue and lead planner for the project.
“It’s not widely used in the country. The only people who do it at the moment are the Canadian Forces, the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Ministry of Forests. We’ll be the first civilian application for this system in the country.”
“We’re working with Emergency management B.C. to develop the protocols and procedures to launch the project. So what this money is is seed money. It’s for training, equipment, it’s not for operations. The way we’ll manage operations is every time we conduct a rescue the province will pay us a subsidy and that subsidy is then used to fund our operations.”
“We actually have team members that are doing rescue training now. It’s not costing us anything because we have instructors in-house. We’re still working with the province on the procedures and protocol. We’re not operational yet but we’re working towards that,” said Blakely.
Below are more photos of an air rescue in West Kelowna in July.
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