Police helicopter is moving to PG

Search and Rescue worried it will slow rescues when time is critical

With little explanation

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

With little explanation, the RCMP is moving its Air Four chopper based in Kamloops to Prince George, leaving the city without police helicopter support.

Alan Hobler, president of Kamloops Search & Rescue, said Feb. 26 the move was rumoured for some time but confirmed by RCMP this week.

The organization is disappointed by the move, which may slow rescue efforts.

“Usually it [response time] is really important,” Hobler said.

An RCMP spokesman based in Vancouver confirmed the transfer of the helicopter based at Fulton Field.

The move is likely in early summer. In an email statement, Sgt. Rob Vermeulen said the “realignment” is being made to better deploy resources.

The RCMP’s north district based in Prince George “comprises 72 per cent of B.C.’s geographic area, so this realignment is simply a matter of common sense,” he said.

Prince George does not currently have a helicopter.

The move will leave Kelowna with the nearest helicopter, followed by units in the Lower Mainland. The Kelowna-based unit will cover an area that stretches from west of Lillooet to the southeast corner of B.C. and north to include Wells Gray Park.

Along with Air Four’s move north will go pilots, flight officers and maintenance engineers.

Helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are used by RCMP for tasks including patrols and surveillance, searches, operational support and to quickly transport members and equipment around B.C.

Hobler said the loss will be mostly keenly felt when searching for people who are lost.

“You want a quick response. The longer people are out, the less they are responsive — and people who are not responsive are difficult to find.”

Loss of the aircraft will also make helicopter training more distant and expensive for volunteer search and rescue members.

Vermeulen said the northbound chopper will see a corresponding move by a fixed-wing aircraft from the northern city to Kamloops. But those aircraft can’t bring rescue personnel into remote sites and don’t work as well for searches, Hobler said.

He estimated RCMP’s Air Three, based in Kelowna, is a 20-minute flight away.

More importantly, that resource will have to be shared with other tasks and frequent maintenance, meaning the Interior will be completely without service at times.

 

Just Posted

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Are there windier days ahead?

Tales from the Bear

Man caught in fatal avalanche ID’ed as Alberta man in his 20s

Outdoor guides warn against high winds in the mountains Family Day weekend

Road conditions for Feb. 14

More compact snow and slippery sections

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Most Read