Shuswap Volunteer Search and Rescue (SVSAR) had a busy weekend, assisting with the helicopter evacuation of two injured snowmobilers from the Owlhead recreation area on Friday and Saturday and then helping to locate lost hikers near Little Shuswap Lake on Saturday evening.
Search manager John Schut said at around 3:30 p.m. on Friday search and rescue volunteers were called out to help a snowmobiler who suffered a serious injury near an area called skinny ridge off the Owlhead trail system.
Schut said the sledder, who was riding alone, had suffered a serious back injury with spinal damage, but was able to fire a flare alerting other snowmobilers in the area who came to his aid and called for help.
Fourteen Shuswap Volunteer Search and Rescue members responded, but due to the treacherous terrain and the nature of the man’s injuries they called in help from the Revelstoke Search and Rescue Helicopter Evacuation Transportation Systems (HETS) team.
Schut said it was a good thing the helicopter was able to assist them with getting the injured man out of the backcountry because without it evacuating him would have required towing him on a toboggan behind a snowmobile over very challenging terrain. The helicopter couldn’t have responded after dark so if the accident had happened later in the day a ground rescue would have been necessary.
“He can certainly say that he was very fortunate,” Schut said.
The injured man was airlifted to Revelstoke and then taken by ambulance to the hospital in Vernon.
Schut said this is one of the first times in recent memory that SVSAR have called on the help of the Revelstoke’s HETS team. The Vernon Search and Rescue winch rescue helicopter which usually assists with this type of rescue was unavailable.
Shuswap Volunteer Search and Rescue was called to help another injured snowmobiler on Owlhead on Saturday afternoon. A sledder with a broken leg was evacuated by helicopter with the help of seven Shuswap and seven Revelstoke search and rescue volunteers.
The busy weekend was not over for Shuswap Search and rescue who went out to locate two hikers who became lost and disoriented near Little Shuswap Lake. Schut said the hikers were located and brought back to the SVSAR command centre by 12:30 a.m. and the volunteers had made it home by 2 a.m.