The following is an excerpt from the Upper North Thompson Reflections
Clearwater & District Highway Rescue Society
By Kevin Deckert
The residents of Clearwater recognized a need for a rescue van with emergency equipment. In the case of a serious motor vehicle incident, the local ambulance crews lacked the equipment to safely extricate injured persons from the wreckage of their vehicles.
Through the fundraising efforts of the Clearwater North Thompson Lions Club, and the community as a whole, the purchase of a 1976 GMC rescue van became a reality. The vehicle was donated to the Clearwater Improvement District (CID) and was manned by the Clearwater Volunteer Fire Department members. Being under the fire department jurisdiction meant the vehicle couldn’t leave the CID boundaries.
This imposed severe restrictions on the usefulness of the vehicle for highway incidents. With many collisions occurring far beyond these boundaries, a new solution had to be found.
A group of concerned citizens decided that in order for the rescue van to be truly useful, they would need to form a society and remove the limits imposed by district boundaries.
The Clearwater and District Highway Rescue Society (CDHRS) was formed. On June 20, 1988, the five people who had applied to incorporate as a society received their seal, Number S-23784. The Society didn’t set boundary limits, but they are perceived to be the RCMP detachment area.
The rescue van was officially handed over to the CDHRS, Jan. 15, 1989, and was housed in the Blackpool Fire Hall. The Society holds monthly meetings and responding members have practices once or twice a month. There are eight members (currently 12) in Clearwater on pagers.
Due to the large area they cover, their effectiveness is enhanced through the efforts of Kevin Deckert, who responds from Avola in his own vehicle to provide immediate assistance and assessments on scene. A new group of responding members has been established in Blue River, who responded in their own vehicles, initially. (The Blue River division is no longer in service.)
The CDHRS decided to try to raise money for a new rescue van for Clearwater, and station the original one in Blue River. This would mean a tremendous increase in effectiveness and swift response time.
The valley community stood up for the challenge. Through a massive fundraising effort by the community clubs, companies and individuals, the unprecedented amount of $90,000 was raised in less than 22 months.
The new 1995 crew cab truck arrived from Red Deer, Alta., on Sept. 30, 1995. Oct. 14, 1995, was set aside to invite everyone to the Safety Mart parking lot to view the truck close up.
The society receives a grant-in-aid from the TNRD Areas A and B. The balance of their funding is by donations, memberships, fundraising and task response payments from PEP.
All of these efforts combine to assist those who find themselves in difficult circumstances and in need of skilled help.
Search and Rescue
By Hazel Small
On Sept. 8, 1965, a meeting was held by the Clearwater Rod and Gun Club (CRGC), with Glen Small as president. With the onset of hunting season and memories of lost persons and hunting accidents in mind, a Search and Rescue Association (S&R), with Reg Small elected as Searchmaster, came into being. This topic had been of concern for some time.
On Feb. 5, 1967, at a meeting held by the CRGC, with Ed Buck as president, it was agreed by the S&R that three members be appointed to handle the disaster fund. It was moved by Hedley Ripley that the president of the CRGC, the president of the S&R and the local Conservation Officer be the three men with authority to sign cheques for the disaster fund. Hence, Ed Buck, Reg Small and Ray Seredick were the signing representatives. This was seconded by Jack Neufeld and accepted by all members present (secretary: F. Lawrence Giesbrecht).
“Snowmobile rescue plaque presented” was the caption in the Vancouver Sun of March 13, 1974. Glen Small “who led a five-man snowmobile team in a dramatic rescue of a fellow snowmobiler in February has been awarded the J.A. Bombardier Memorial Award. The plaque, for lending ‘exceptional assistance during a winter emergency,’ was made in Vancouver.”
Glen also was interviewed on a radio talk program there. He, Doug Best, Gordon Mackenzie, Art Gillian and John DeLeeuw all did their best on the search for Dave DeLeeuw, John’s brother. On Raft Mountain, near Clearwater, the De Leeuws were snowmobiling when they ran into a snowstorm. In an attempt to circle to a loftier spot, Dave lost his direction and tumbled in his machine about 200 feet, then fell free another 1200 feet.
John went for help, and “Dave struggled up the mountain in the snow until he could advance no further because of near exhaustion. Back at Clearwater, Glen Small, 32, who was ready for bed about 11:30 p.m. after a day’s snowmobile racing that cinched the B.C. Open Snowmobile Racing Championship for him, was called on to head the rescue.”
The five men headed to the mountain about 1:30 a.m. Through snow, fog and darkness they reached the drop off where DeLeeuw had fallen. Using snowshoes “driven vertically into the crusted snow as pegs to brace their feet against, they inched their way down the drop off point.
“We hollered as loud as we could,” Small said. “He was on a ledge about 200 feet below us. A rope harness was eventually lowered and Dave DeLeeuw was pulled to safety, about 4 a.m.”
“Pilot Small refused to quit on plane search” was the title published on Nov. 22, 1977, in the Kamloops Sentinel. “The search had been cut back, and several military aircraft were on their way back to Comox, but Glen Small wasn’t giving up. He knew Rudy Bauer, the pilot missing since Oct. 20 with four other men, and at about 10:30 a.m. Monday he found their wrecked plane near Deception Mountain…Small said he had been in the air since 8:15 a.m. Monday, and was circling back to return to Clearwater when he made a loop near Deception Mountain.”
Glen had been looking at some maps of the area and had made some conclusions about where Rudy might have gone down. With him were Bauer’s mother-in-law, Hettire Miller and Bob Herslev. It was Herslev who first saw the wing of Bauer’s plane, and Glen radioed in to say the plane had been spotted.
Thankfully, the search was over, but it was tragic that the flight had ended in disaster for all who were on board the Cessna 180.