By Roger Knox, Vernon Morning Star
A cell phone is a handy device to have when out in the back country, if there’s cell coverage available.
A Revelstoke mountain biker will confirm that.
The man in his 20s was with three other friends mountain biking on the Enderby Cliffs Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. when he hit a tree stump and suffered a serious puncture wound to his leg.
The group had two cell phones with them. One of the phones’ battery died, but thanks to the other being charged, they were able to phone for help.
“We got the call from B.C. Ambulance asking us to respond and retrieve the guy,” said Leigh Pearson with Vernon Search and Rescue.
As the injured biker was near the top of the cliffs, search and rescue looked at three options of getting to the man.
They could hike up the trail, which would have resulted in a long, time-consuming jaunt back down with the injured cyclist.
They could get to the man via the back of the mountain using ATVs, but that, too, would have taken considerable time.
So search and rescue called in a helicopter, specifically a machine from Kelowna-based Valhalla Helicopters, on a recommendation from Vernon helicopter companies whose machines were all out on business calls.
“We had to carry the injured cyclist about 100 metres to where the helicopter could land and loaded him on,” said Pearson. “His friends did a good job of stabilizing the injury until we got there. The helicopter landed at the bottom of the mountain, at the parking lot for the trail, and the ambulance was waiting there.
“The helicopter guy did a tremendous job for us. It was very slick. It didn’t take much time from the time we got to him.”
The mountain biker was taken to the hospital in Salmon Arm where he was treated for his injury. He has since returned to Revelstoke, where he is recovering at home.
Pearson highly recommends anybody going out into the back country to take their cell phone, but make sure it has a good battery that is fully charged.
And be aware that once you get out of the valley bottom, cell coverage disappears quickly.
“These guys were fortunate that there was a cell tower fairly close by so they had decent coverage,” said Pearson, adding that areas such as east of Lumby on Highway 6 have virtually no cell phone coverage.
“People don’t realize that,” he said. “They take it for granted that cell phone coverage is everywhere when it isn’t.”
With files from Alex Cooper/Revelstoke Times Review