Fernie Search and Rescue

Rope rescue for injured ATV driver

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The Free Press
July 2009

A specialist rope rescue team was used to rescue a Sparwood man who broke his neck rolling his ATV down a steep hill on Saturday.  The accident involved two ATVs that ended up rolling down a steep wooded embankment off the side of Hartley Lake Road, just off Dicken Road near Femie.

The two drivers were at the back of a convoy of ATVs coming back from a day driving in the area at about 9 p.m. Because they were at the back of the pack, their vision was impaired by the dust and it is thought they missed a hairpin bend and went straight off the side.

Both vehicles rolled some way down the bank and were badly damaged. One of the drivers was able to walk out and raise the alarm, but the other was badly hurt, with a broken neck.

A couple of the other ATV drivers were trained in mine rescue, and scrambled down the hill to help stabilise the man and called the RCMP.

The RCMP called Femie Search and Rescue at around 10 p.m. and members from both Femie and Sparwood responded. Simon Piney from Femie Search and Rescue said the man was very lucky a team of the rescuers had recently been trained to use the rope rescue system. "A first aider was with the man within 10 minutes," he said. "He had rolled down a very steep, rocky, loose and wet bank, and it would have been really difficult to get him out without using the rope system."

The rope rescue team used ropes to lower team members down to the man, who was then moved using a spine board onto a basket and hauled back up.

"The man had a broken neck and it's a miracle he wasn't paralyzed," said Piney. "If his friends had tried to drag him up the hill he would have been paralyzed, but this new rope system meant we could immobilize him and protect his spine from further injury."

The injured man was taken by ambulance to Elk Valley Hospital. He was then transferred on to Calgary.

Search and Rescue have focused their recent fund-raising efforts on equipping and training a rope rescue team in Femie. The team became fully operational a couple of months ago, and this is the second time in a few weeks that the team has been used to rescue injured people from terrain that would be otherwise inaccessible for effective rescues.

This web site has been created by and is provided by VolunteerRescue of SKRPC Holdings Inc., Fernie, BC, Canada.