Search and rescue teams conduct Wallace Island rescue simulation

Combined land and sea exercise helps volunteers train for the real thing

  • Mar. 27, 2015 5:00 p.m.

Ladysmith’s Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) Unit 29 recently took part in a training exercise Feb. 28 at Wallace Island, getting a chance to work with its new rescue vessel and work with several other crews.

Ladysmith’s RCM-SAR volunteers arrived at the Vesuvius Bay ferry dock on Salt Spring Island just after 10 a.m. that morning and met up with RCM-SAR stations 34 (Mill Bay) and 25 (Gulf Islands).

About 14 RCM-SAR members took part in the exercise, and a large contingent of land Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers from Salt Spring Island and Vancouver Island were involved as well.

For this training exercise, the scenario was that one person had become hurt and broken her leg in a difficult location on Wallace Island, according to a report from Ladysmith RCM-SAR.

Two people were either with her or had found her and had set off on foot to get help. The injured person was located and could receive preliminary medical treatment, but she had to be relayed down a rock face to a vessel for evacuation. The other two people who had gone to get help were not heard from again, and they were believed to be lost on Wallace Island and needed to be found.

The three RCM-SAR vessels took a contingent of land SAR members to the northeast side of Wallace Island to work on a rope rescue and lowering a distressed person down the side of a rock face onto a vessel.

As the land SAR crews set up for their exercises, Ladysmith’s vessel conducted shoreline searches from the north to south of the east shore of Wallace island, practising lookout techniques and using  image-stabilizing goggles and binoculars, discussing methods of scanning visually, as well as practising hazard avoidance.

When the land SAR crew were ready to begin lowering the “injured” victim down the rock face on the northeast side of Wallace, Ladysmith’s vessel returned to the area where the crew had dropped off land SAR initially, and they held station a little ways from the rock face while one land SAR member escorted the rescue cage and injured woman down the rock face and eventually into the vessel.

A land SAR team in the upper woods instructed Ladysmith RCM-SAR members via radio when to come close to shore to assist the descending land SAR member and injured woman. The descending land SAR member tossed RCM-SAR members a rope throw bag to ensure they could securely get a hold of the cage.

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