Central Cariboo Search and Rescue volunteers Grayson Eglin (left) and Kevin Rowley (right) with Wayne Pelley (inside the car) during an auto extrication course held in Williams Lake.

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue volunteers Grayson Eglin (left) and Kevin Rowley (right) with Wayne Pelley (inside the car) during an auto extrication course held in Williams Lake.

Search and Rescue crew keeps skills sharp

Volunteers with Cariboo Search and Rescue (SAR) recently honed their auto extrication skills during a weekend workshop in Williams Lake.

Volunteers with Cariboo Search and Rescue (SAR) recently honed their auto extrication skills during a weekend workshop held in Williams Lake.

For some of the members it was their first time taking the course, for others it was a refresher.

“I’ve taken it three or four times but I always learn new techniques,” said Chief of SAR Operations Rick White, who has been with the group since 1997.

On a Saturday afternoon, under the hot sun at Bee Jays Auto Wrecking and Towing, 10 members were busy with hands-on learning.

Instructor Allen Tonn of KGG fire rescue in Nanaimo, who was teaching the 20-hour course, said they spent Friday evening doing theory at the SAR hall on Mackenzie Avenue, and on Sunday would work on techniques.

“Today is all about scenarios,” Tonn smiled. “I give them instructions and then leave them to it.”

In the course students learn to assess a motor vehicle incident, stabilize a vehicle, and remove and extricate patients in a variety of situations.

“It’s not about taking patients out but about removing the auto from the patient — hence auto extrication,” Tonn said, adding the course meets the National Fire Protection Act 1006 level one.

As he described how to do a trunk entry to a group milling around an upside down vehicle he told them they would literally have to make a tunnel.

“The first time you do it it takes a while, but once you know how, it goes really fast,” he assured the group. “First you hook it, strap it and pop the trunk.”

Recalling theory from the night before, volunteer Alana Sand chuckled and said the strapping was necessary in case there was a monkey in the trunk.

Across the yard a second group was learning how to remove the roof from a vehicle to make a third door.

“They are using tools and getting a feel for how it’s done,” Tonn said. “Bee Jays has donated the cars and drained them. Later today they will build two new scenes for us. It’s great to have a tow company willing to support the program.”

First year heavy duty mechanic Grayson Eglin joined the team in November 2014 but had been involved with a mine rescue for six years prior to that.

“This is all new technique for me,” Eglin said, explaining the hydraulic power used with the rescue tools or jaws of life, are “high, nice and slow.”

As he peeked out from inside the back of car, Wayne Pelly said he’s been a volunteer with SAR for five years.

He’s also done 15 years of rescue and first aid at Gibraltar Mine and is the co-chair of the safety committee there.

After the course was over, White said it was amazing.

“Our two teams each did three scenarios on Sunday,” he said. “Next year I think we will try to do a heavy truck course, involving semis and tankers, that sort of thing.”

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