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New tool for Coquitlam Search and Rescue team

Coquitlam Search and Rescue personnel will now have the ability to extract people from remote areas using the Helicopter External Transportation System.  - TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
Coquitlam Search and Rescue personnel will now have the ability to extract people from remote areas using the Helicopter External Transportation System.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Coquitlam Search and Rescue personnel have a new tool at their disposal when extracting people from remote areas.

Eleven members of the crew are now trained to use the Helicopter External Transportation System (HETS), a technique that allows rescuers suspended from a chopper to be inserted into small openings in the forest canopy.

"The tool is now one of many our team can implement during a task," said Garry Mancell, president of Coquitlam SAR. "We join a hand full of teams in the province with a full suite of highly skilled members who can do swift water, mountain, avalanche, high angle and medical rescues as well as search management now HETS."

When HETS is used, a member is suspended from a helicopter on a 100 to 200 foot rope. The highly trained pilot is able to insert the rescuer into the forest canopy and extract an untrained subject either in a stretcher or, if ambulatory, with the use of a special harness.

Bill Papove, the HETS committee chair, said it is only used in situations where SAR personnel believe that walking out would put the victim or rescuers at a greater risk.

"The decision to use HETS is not taken lightly," he said. "There are a whole range of factors the SAR manager and HETS team look at with the bottom line always being safety of the team and the subject."

Papove, Al Hurley, Cam Girvan, Nick Zupan, Colin Saurette, Mike Coyle, Wendi Harder, Darren Timmer, Roland Webb, Steve MacDonald and Jim Delgrande are the 11 members trained to use HETS for Coquitlam Search and Rescue.

The organization coers a 1,600-square-km region between Indian Arm on the west, Pitt Lake on the east, Garibaldi Park to the north and the Fraser River to the south.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

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