The Canadian Armed Forces have reported on an air rescue mission that was launched on 8 May when Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton was called to help the Ontario Provincial Police with a medical evacuation. The patient was stuck on an island with his brother and needed help. A Griffon crew from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron was tasked with the rescue mission.
The first challenge was a matter of fuel and distance. Warrant Officer Bygrove, the senior SAR technician on the mission, explained: “We took off from Trenton in the Griffon helicopter with enough gas to get us there and insert the search and rescue technicians. Based on the range of the aircraft, versus the distance to Algonquin Park and then out to the next gas stop or hospital, the time was very tight.”
The Griffon hovered over the island so that SAR Tech Master Corporal Eve Boyce could be lowered down through the trees to reach the patient. Meanwhile, Bygrove was in a confined area just off to the side of the island, bringing down equipment. Due to the trees, there was nowhere for the helicopter to land, so it had to leave to get more fuel.
Boyce stabilised the patient, which helped improve his breathing, while Bygrove used a chainsaw to cut down trees to create enough space to allow the crew to hoist a stretcher back up to the helicopter. Due to the weather conditions, they had to wait for first light to evacuate the patient and took turns keeping watch.
While the two SAR techs were on the island, the Griffon crew faced weather trouble themselves. They had to wait out the night, and, as a result, the rotors iced over. A second helicopter from 424 T&R Squadron was sent in to extract the patient in the morning. The patient was taken to Pembroke Regional Hospital, and then the SAR crews returned to Trenton.
“It took a lot of great hoisting from the flight engineer, great flying from the pilot, and a lot of co-ordination from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre to pull this off,” said Bygrove. “We’re really happy to be able to assist.”