Letter to the Editor: Search and Rescue

Submitted by Gord Ihlen, Operations Manager, Castlegar Search and Rescue

Tense day on the river when a Search and Rescue (SAR) jet boat hit debris in swift water, above Rivervale, and lost power. Free-floating downriver towards massive rocks, with eight people on board, things got real tense, real fast.

We briefed on emergency procedures with the whole team before we left the dock. Knowing the imminent danger, the crew declared amayday and went into action. A small motor was put into action to give us minimal steering but was no match for the powerful current. Afterseveral minutes that seemed like seconds, a coordinated effort got us into a small back eddy and the motor was able to push us to shore.

Countless hours of training and safety briefings pay off big time. After two days of searching, the team shook this off and was ready to getback to the search as soon as possible.

But that’s not the real story.

The real story is the amazing fire fighters of the RDKB Fire Department. For the second time in two weeks the department has come to theaid of Search and Rescue. First with a high angle rope rescue at the Paulson Bridge and on Friday when we had to declare a mayday.

The fire boat was there in minutes and arrived just as we made it to shore. Without them and our good luck at getting in, we would havesurely run into rocks and sunk the the 25-ft vessel. The fire crew stayed until we were able to repair the boat and successfully test all thesystems. With the green light, we proceeded up river to drop off search teams.

We are grateful for their help. Your city should be proud of the firefighters that serve them. A thankful SAR team.