A hiker from Comox has been rescued from Della Falls, on the final day of a four-day hike that began at the end of Great Central Lake in the Alberni Valley.
The 61-year-old man was with a group of 12 from the Comox District Mountaineering Club that had almost completed the four-day hike to the falls. He had been hit in the back while traversing the cable car across Drinkwater Creek on Sunday, according to trip director Ken Rodonets, and aggravated a pre-existing injury.
“When he woke up Monday morning he was dizzy and nauseous. We made the decision to use the SPOT beacon and send out for help,” Rodonets said.
A SPOT beacon uses satellite technology to send a GPS location out to rescuers, similar to the way an Emergency Locator Beacon (ELT) works on an airplane.
The Port Alberni RCMP received a call about a signal activation at the end of Great Central Lake at 9:07 a.m. Monday, Cpl. Amelia Hayden confirmed.
Alberni Valley Rescue Squad sent 15 members to the end of the lake, where the trailhead for Della Falls is located, and two volunteer rescue members hiked to Margaret Creek, where they met up with the hiking party.
“Our members got to him, evaluated him and decided we would activate Campbell River SAR (helicopter rescue team),” AVRS search manager Dave Poulsen said.
The AVRS rescuers decided because of the heat and amount of volunteers a ground rescue would need, it would be best to medevac the hiker instead of carry him via stretcher the 5.5 kms to the end of Great Central Lake. They called Campbell River Search and Rescue to bring in their Class D long line for a helicopter rescue.
“We responded with four members and landed on a gravel bar near Margaret Creek, a short distance to where the subject was,” CRSAR member Grant Cromer said. “We directed the Alberni Valley rescuers on scene to place the man on a wooden foot bridge crossing on a creek. We inserted two rescue techs onto the bridge and lifted the man out where he was transferred to the helicopter and flown to the Ark Resort at the opposite end of Great Central Lake, approximately 35 km away, where he was transferred to BC Emergency Health Services.”
The man, an experienced hiker, was treated at West Coast General Hospital and released. He’s now resting at home for a week, Rodonets said.
Rodonets, a member of Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue, is grateful for the teamwork between AVRS and CVSAR in assisting his hiker to get medical attention.
“Thanks to Alberni Valley Rescue Squad for spending their day out there, and to Campbell River SAR for helicopter long-lining the person out,” he said.
Cromer said the rescue is “an excellent example of how our search and rescue system in BC functions: a call is received, a SAR group responds and when the call evolves beyond the resources available on scene, specialized resources are brought in to accomplish the mission, in this case a long line rescue team.”
This was Campbell River’s second long line rescue in 48 hours as we were also called to assist West Coast Inland SAR on Pogo Mountain near Clayoquot Plateau Provincial Park, when a hiker had become stranded on a bluff.
“We are seeing more and more applications for this team,” Cromer said. “This was the fourth time since June we have activated our long line rescue team and they generally involve extraction from very remote, often high alpine environments.”