Fernie SAR activated to rescue biker

Locals are reminded to make safety a priority when out in the backcountry

Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR) responded to a call involving an injured mountain biker in the Mount Fernie Provincial Park on Monday.

The rider sustained injuries to his upper leg and hip. Fernie SAR technicians accessed the rider via all-terrain vehicles and utility task vehicles, evacuating and transferring him to the British Columbia Ambulance Service.

According to Simon Piney, head of Fernie SAR, there has been a significant increase in call-outs compared to last year, as more people seek to social-distance in the backcountry.

“We have responded to incidents this summer involving mountain bikers, hikers, dirt bikers, river users, backcountry vehicle incidents and others,” said Piney. “While this is a predictable result from more backcountry users, it does place SAR teams and their members under extra pressure, as the risks of COVID in wilderness rescue situations can be hard to manage. Having said that Fernie SAR remains fully operational and continues to provide constant emergency coverage.”

Piney also urges bikers to exercise caution on trails, approaching all technical trail features with the right skill level, and to always look before leaping.

“Our observations from around the trails is that the hot weather has caused trail traction to deteriorate significantly compared to what we were enjoying in the earlier summer, with very dusty, powdery conditions. In almost all cases excess speed on this looser surface is a major factor in loss of control.”

In the event of an emergency, Piney wanted to remind anyone using trails around Fernie to manage hazards by placing branches, clothing or a person up-trail of an injured person, alerting other trail users to slow down. While SAR does not seek to teach first aid to the public, Piney urged those facing emergency situations to manage airways, breathing and circulation (ABCs) first.

“If you believe, or observed, a significant involvement of the head, neck or back then you should do everything to secure the person in the position found,” said Piney. “Do not aggressively move them unless ABC requirements oblige you to. Even on a hot day an injured person can get cold, so be ready to pile jackets or clothing on them. Avoid giving them food or water.”

When dealing with emergencies, Piney also reminds those on scene calling 911 to state that the emergency is located in the backcountry, and that SAR must be activated, as the location may be inaccessible by road.

“Remember, the dispatcher in Kelowna does not know that Swine Flu is a bike trail on a mountain. For all they know it is a restaurant. If you don’t have cell service, then hopefully you have a satellite phone that will allow you to call for help, if you don’t have that you will have to make a decision about whether to wait on your trip plan to kick in, or send someone for help.”

For more advice on a trip plan, head to ferniesar.ca/trip-plan/. A list of suggested equipment can be found at ferniesar.ca/10-essentials/. For more information on how to best prepare for outdoor trips, visit adventuresmart.ca.


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