Coquitlam SAR was paged at 9:15 on Sunday, May 4th for an injured hiker on the Diez Vista trail near Buntzen Lake. The subject, a hiker in his 30’s, was with a group of friends, had injured his ankle and was unable to move.
The team responded, setting up command at the Buntzen Lake Warden’s Office. The subject’s friends reported he was at the 10th vista, and gave coordinates from his smart phone (the Diez Vista trail was so named for the 10 viewpoints on the trail).
The weather deteriorated, and SAR members were dispatched to the scene as they arrived. Members were equipped with hypothermia treatment equipment, ropes, stretcher, food and water to assist the subject and his friends who reported being cold because of the downpour. It took about 45 minutes to reach the subject’s location from the trailhead.
Because of the weather and the proximity to the trailhead, it was decided to carry the subject out via stretcher. This is a labour-intensive process requiring six members at a time to carry the subject, other SAR members going ahead to fix ropes for steeper sections of the trail, and still more members to assist with the stretcher and carrying gear. In all, over 16 members assisted with the carry which took approximately 3 hours.
The subject and all SAR members reached the trailhead by late afternoon.
A relatively simple task like this one shows many of the skills of the SAR team in one place; training on first aid, rope rescue, communications, navigation, and logistics; the bread and butter of SAR, so to speak. Also worth noting is the amount of time it takes to clean up, dry and re-pack equipment used on a rescue like this, tasks that will be completed today. The team maintains duplicate sets of gear so that if some is “out of service” after a task, we can still respond.
An injury like this one can happen to anyone. The thing to learn from incidents like this is that a combination of injury, and bad weather can make a simple hike into a possibly life threatening situation; even with the warm spring weather, people sitting in the pouring rain can become hypothermic quite easily.
This search was the second task for Coquitlam SAR this weekend, the first being a search for a missing person with dementia in Port Coquitlam. That task was stood down when the subject was located before the team was fully deployed.