Page 2 of 3
Males continued to account for the majority of SAR cases, representing 44 of 53 people helped last year, though the percentage of females has risen in the last decade. Foreign nationals accounted for 13 of 53 subjects and the average age of subjects increased as well.
The trends that stood out most for Sills in the past year were the continued decline in snowboard related calls and the increase in trauma among snowmobilers — something he'd like to see addressed at a provincial level.
The province has started to licence and register snowmobiles, which must be insured by ICBC. However, Sills would also like to see more education.
"They should have to have a specialty driver's licence," he said. "I liken snow to other natural resources, like fish and wildlife where you need hunting permits or fishing permits, and you have to abide by the laws for management units where areas can be closed at certain times or permanently closed."
SAR frustrated by helipad response
Of the 31 rescues that involved helicopters, all but three had to land at the municipal helipad north of Emerald Estates, with the patients then transported on to the Whistler Health Care Centre by ambulance.
The helicopter landing pad at the Whistler Health Care Centre was recently renovated to bring it into compliance with Transport Canada regulations, a process that required the installation of a new de-icing system, the removal of trees and the installation of traffic stoplights.
However, the renovations stopped short of what would be required to allow single engine helicopters — the kind most often used by local heli-ski companies that are hired by Search and Rescue teams — to land there.
Sills said they were confident they could reach a solution, but a few weeks ago SAR received a letter stating that Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) would not pay for additional upgrades.
"Since last summer we've been working very closely with VCH and we were very much encouraged until about two weeks ago when we received the news that there just isn't the money," said Sills. "We wanted to develop a business case to justify the money required to do this, and this is in spite of offers from Whistler SAR to spearhead some community support and find the funding ourselves if we can."
The required work to allow single-engine helicopters to land includes topping some trees along Fitzsimmons Creek and further changes to the traffic lights, among other things.
With SAR members responding to life-and-death situations, Sills said the decision does not sit well with team members.
May 24, 2013, 2:05 PM
Locals frustrated by damage to village; police log 17 cases of mischief over one night More...
May 24, 2013, 2:00 PM
Course to be announced at mandatory athlete meeting Sat. 6 p.m. at the GLC More...
May 24, 2013, 2:00 PM
Eight candidates were nominated for three positions on the Board More...