Injured hiker rescued after six hour stretcher carry by ASAR

Search and rescue members carry an injured hiker through challenging terrain during a rescue on the Nile Creek trail on Aug. 24, 2021. || ASAR photo
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An injured hiker is safe after being rescued on the Nile Creek trail by Arrowsmith Search and Rescue (ASAR) yesterday (Aug. 24).

Search and rescue was called out to an area close to Highway 19, near Bowser, around 3 p.m. and found a woman with a broken ankle, according to Nick Rivers, search and rescue manager.

SunWest attempted to evacuate the woman using a helicopter, but there were no suitable landing sites in the area, Rivers said. Search and rescue members had to carry the hiker on a stretcher, through difficult terrain, for over six hours.

“Everyone’s a little sore today, that’s for sure. It was a lot of work, the trail is super narrow — lots of drop off points, six, seven foot drop offs,” said Rivers.

ASAR called in support from Comox Valley, Nanaimo and Alberni search and rescue teams. Rivers said five members from each assisted around 30 ASAR personnel in carrying the injured hiker, using rope assist, to the closest logging road. The hiker was then transported to Highway 19 via ATV and transferred to an ambulance. The extra help was called in to provide more people to alternate transporting the stretcher through difficult, muddy terrain.

Rivers said it appeared the hiker fell in the slippery conditions.

“There’s quite a bit of mud up there, even this time of year. There’s a lot of little creeks running through and you end up stepping in one spot and you sink up to your knee in mud,” he said.

The incident was the third time ASAR has been called out to the Nile Creek trail system this summer. Normally search and rescue receive a call about that area every one or two years, according to Rivers.

ASAR has noticed a call increase of about 40 per cent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rivers added.

Pandemic restrictions have also made it challenging to recruit and train new members, although when restrictions were loosened ASAR was able to start a class of 14 recruits, Rivers said.

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