Nelson Search and Rescue crews prepare for action at the staging area along the shores of Kootenay Lake.

Nelson Search and Rescue crews prepare for action at the staging area along the shores of Kootenay Lake.

CPR employee rescued after fall on Kootenay Lake

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  • Mar. 23, 2011 10:00 a.m.

TYE — Nelson Search and Rescue plucked an injured CPR worker from the south arm of Kootenay Lake using a helicopter Tuesday afternoon.

Murray Springman with search and rescue says the man was part of a work crew 500m north of Tye when he fell approximately seven meters from a bucket truck to the railway grade.

His colleagues called BC Ambulance, who initially paged Creston Search and Rescue, but as they had neither a boat nor the ability to do a long-line rescue, the job fell to rescuers from Nelson.

After receiving the call at about 2:25 p.m., they dispatched both a helicopter and a rescue boat from Nelson. If the long-line attempt failed, the boat crew would try a rope rescue.

Springman says it was a steep slope between the railgrade and the water of approximately 15 meters.

The helicopter did a reconnaissance flight, then set down on the beach at Midge Creek.

The chopper was rigged with equipment, and then flew in with two searchers on the line, who reached the victim and package him on a spine board.

It then returned to Tye, where the man was repackaged and placed inside the helicopter and flown across the lake to an ambulance at Sirdar.

Paramedics from Creston assessed him and then he was flown to hospital in Trail.

Although it’s unclear what injuries he suffered, a CPR spokesman said they were not life-threatening and he’s expected to make a full recovery. His age and hometown were not released.

One of the rescuers was left behind because there wasn’t enough room in the helicopter, and was later picked up by the boat.

“In an emergency we can usually make it to Tye in an hour in that big boat,” Springman says, “but it took 2½ hours to get back [to Nelson]. They were hitting 10-foot waves. It was a rough, rough night.”

He adds that had they been forced to do a rope rescue, “it would have been a long, dangerous thing on a very steep slope.”

As it turned out, “It’s a good news story again, which is nice to see. One of our members said this was a textbook long-line rescue.”

Overall, seven search and rescue members were involved: three in the boat, three in the helicopter, and Springman as search manager.

Nelson Search and Rescue is one of a handful of groups in the province able to do long-line helicopter missions.

CPR spokesman Kevin Hrysak says the incident is under review.

“Safety is our top priority and this incident will be thoroughly investigated,” he said. “We commend [search and rescue] efforts in getting our employee out.”