On Saturday, July 15, Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR) starting training with their new long-line rescue systems, a method of rescue which will allow them to help people in hard-to-reach places, much faster and easier than they have in the past. SAR are often faced with rescue scenarios on steep mountainsides, which sometimes require precarious hover entry/exits. Fernie SAR received two 100 foot longlines, which can extend together to reach 200 feet. This allows the helicopter to hover above the victim without putting the machine at risk. There are currently 45 members in Fernie SAR, and 12 have been chosen to be trained in the longline rescue systems. The members being trained are by invitation only, and are required to have avalanche training, advanced first aid, wilderness survival and swiftwater and ropes. With one pilot and one rescue personnel on the longline during a rescue, fewer people are needed for a rescue, which reduces the members’ exposure to risk. The equipment and training cost over $100,000, and funding was provided through a number of grants, support from the Columbia Basin Trust, as well as the B.C. government. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

SAR now equipped for long-line rescues

Phil McLachlan

Free Press Staff