River rescue

“You want me to do what?”

  • Dec. 13, 2010 7:00 p.m.
Master rescue instructor Jim Lavalley of Rescue Canada looks on as Ryan McClarty rescues Riel MacBourdeau from the  North Thompson River on Dec. 4.

Master rescue instructor Jim Lavalley of Rescue Canada looks on as Ryan McClarty rescues Riel MacBourdeau from the North Thompson River on Dec. 4.

“You want me to do what?”

That question was asked several times the weekend of Dec. 4, as nine members of Wells Gray Search and Rescue (SAR) took to the ice on the North Thompson River. The group had contracted Rescue Canada for a course in ice rescue and some of the exercises called for by master rescue instructor Jim Lavalley raised a few frozen eyebrows.

“Just hop in the water and I’ll push you under the ice until the current carries you to the end of your rope, then you can pull yourself back under the ice”, or “ I want you all to jump up and down on this ice shelf until it breaks and dumps you into the river”.

Working for two days on the river below the Vavenby bridge the SAR team learned about ice morphology, as well as self, team and subject rescue. Other skills taught included tethered swimming and effecting rescues using a variety of appliances including inflatable boats.

“With Dutch Lake in the middle of town [Clearwater] and so well used in the winter,, we felt it was important to be trained to respond to ice incidents safely and effectively,” said team leader Gord Dubois.

The group agreed the training was excellent and will allow them to respond to a variety of ice related tasks. All enjoyed the weekend in spite of some of the daunting exercises they were called on to perform.