PGSAR Now Offering Long-Line Rescue
Prince George, B.C. – It’s a service that’s been billed as a way to save lives and now it’s available in northern B.C.
Prince George Search and Rescue announced today their availability to provide long-line rescue – a first in North Central B.C.
It’s been made possible via a partnership with Yellowhead Helicopters, fundraising and a $90,000 contribution from the provincial government.
PGSAR has trained 10 of its members to provide the service starting today if needed.
“Yeah, we’re very pleased,” says Jeff Smedley, search and rescue manager. “It’s been a lot of hours and time and effort to get this going but now we’re capable of going and doing the helicopter long-line rescues that you see on the news for a bunch of groups in the Lower Mainland and southern Interior.”
He says the service was identified as a need in the Prince George region a few years ago and means they’ll no longer have to seek assistance from long-line rescue teams outside the North.
Smedley says it’ll make a big difference.
“One, it’s going to help us to be able to go in and rescue someone who’s in a precarious situation. It’ll be much safer for our guys to be able to go in and do that,” he says.
“And secondly it’s going to be an advantage for us in that we have the ability to respond to one of our rescuers in the event they get hurt in a hurry.”
In the past, Smedley says they’ve had to call for assistance from outside the region including from as far away as Jasper or even Vancouver Island.
“Several times we’ve called in 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron from Comox, that’s a two-and-a-half to four-hour response time. Last spring, we had a young lady up in the Pine Pass near Powder King who fell a long way down the hill and broke her leg very badly.
“We were able to land with the helicopter just before dark and get to her but we waited until 4:30 the next morning until the rescue squadron from Comox was able to get her out.”
And in a worst-case scenario, he’s certain it will help save lives.
“Absolutely. There could be other factors at play like weather, but if all the ducks line-up we’ll be able to go in and assist somebody to pull them out.”
PGSAR is now one of 13 SAR organizations in the province offering this service.