A paraglider who became stuck high in a tree on Sunday has multiple Search and Rescue (SAR) teams to thank for reaching the ground safely, including one member from Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue.
At about 2 p.m. on July 18, Ridge Meadows SAR responded to the call for help on Mount St. Benedict, just east of Hatzic Lake. Teams from Mission, Central Fraser Valley, and Chilliwack SAR teams also responded.
The paraglider was stuck about 60 feet, or about 18 metres, high in a tree, said Rick Laing, search manager for Ridge Meadows.
Team member Bryan Moffatt, who is also an arborist, went to the scene to help on the ground, said Laing.
“With this one, they had to get teams up to where the person was,” he continued.
So, Chilliwack SAR were brought in to do a long-line rescue with Talon Helicopters. SAR members were transported to the scene by helicopter, they did the extrication from the ground and then were hoisted, along with the patient, back to the base, or staging area, where the person was handed over to BC Ambulance, said Laing.
A total of 22 SAR members were involved in the rescue: Mission SAR had 14 members involved, Central Fraser Valley and Ridge Meadows both had one member each, and Chilliwack SAR had six members.
Mission SAR said a gust of wind collapsed the paraglider’s chute, and credited an arborist on Ridge Meadows SAR, experienced in tree rescue, for the successful outcome.
“The subject was well prepared and did not suffer any injuries,” they said.
The operation was completed by 10 p.m.
Mount St. Benedict is a popular place for paragliders with a launch area at the top of the mountain.
XC Paragliding touts Mount St. Benedict as their premier site with a large take-off area that is situated near a known “house thermal” at 1080 metres, where paragliders are more likely to go up right away with chances to reach heights of almost 2,000 metres.
BC Emergency Health Services confirmed they were called to the scene and initially dispatched three paramedic crews. However, they said, the patient did not sustain injuries and did not require treatment or transport to hospital.
Ridge Meadows SAR had members in Golden Ears Provincial Park on Saturday, July 17, where, in partnership with AdventureSmart, a national education program that teaches people how to be safe while enjoying outdoor recreational activities, they talked with more than 100 hikers heading out on the trails.
They also did Hug-A-Tree and Survive presentations at one of the group campsites. Hug-A-Tree and Survive is an AdventureSmart program that teaches children what they should do if they become lost in the woods until rescue crews can find them, and how not to get lost in the woods.
Laing noted that AdventureSmart hits all the “hot spots” throughout the province where the majority of SAR calls are taking place.
They were in Golden Ears park only about two weeks ago talking to hikers when word came in that there was a man on a trail who broke his leg.
“I guess they looked at that and at that time they saw the amount of hikers going up and they thought they would come back out and do it again,” said Laing, adding that there are many people venturing along local hiking trails who are generally unprepared.
“People go out in sandals and flip flops and hike these trails that they are going to be out there for hours and hours, and they have little to no supplies on them,” he said, noting that it is not a problem unique to Golden Ears Park, but at hiking trails across the Lower Mainland.
“How they don’t get hurt or injured or lost just amazes us.”
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