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Busy long weekend for provincial safety specialists

Broken bones, treacherous falls and quad rollovers punctuated a busy long weekend for Kananaskis Public Safety.

Broken bones, treacherous falls and quad rollovers punctuated a busy long weekend for Kananaskis Public Safety.

Kananaskis Public Safety and conservation officers responded to 13 backcountry calls over the long weekend, including four heli-sling rescues.

“Despite the fire ban there was a fair amount of traffic in Kananaskis Country,” said public safety officer Mike Koppang.

The rescues began on Friday afternoon, when a Calgary woman fell 20 feet descending from the Ing’s Mine cave in East Kananaskis.

The fall left her with several head lacerations and public safety officers treated her for spinal injuries. She was taken by STARS to a Calgary hospital.

On Saturday afternoon (May 21), a group of unprepared hikers got lost near the Barrier Lake fire lookout.

The group lost the trail in two feet of snow while hiking in blue jeans and running shoes and was able to call emergency services with their cellphone. The hikers from Calgary ended up heading towards the Trans-Canada Highway when public safety found them.

After nearly eight hours on the trail, some of the hikers were showing signs of hypothermia. One of the women in the group could not continue, and was heli-slung out of the backcountry with her husband and chihuahua.

“The group was unprepared for a day on the trail,” said Koppang.

The third heli-sling rescue occurred Saturday night in the Ghost region when a quad flipped and landed on a woman from Calgary. Public safety officers were heli-slung to the scene, where they found the woman had suffered several broken bones. She was treated for spinal injuries and flown to Sundre EMS with assistance from Alpine helicopters.

The final heli-sling rescue occurred Sunday night on the East End of Rundle. A Calgary woman was descending rocky terrain when she slipped and bounced down several metres, managing to stop herself right before the rock wall.

“One more bounce and it would have been fatal,” said Koppang.

Conservation and Public Safety officers located her at treeline with assistance of a helicopter, where she was treated for spinal injuries. She had several cuts and scrapes on her head.

Koppang warns the public to research their trip before heading out and tell someone where you’re going. In most of the rescues, the victims were able to contact help with a cell phone.

“Have a communication device when you’re in the backcountry. Devices like a satellite phone, SPOT or even a cell phone can help,” Koppang said.

Cell phone coverage is spotty in Kananaskis Country and is considered the least reliable.

Kananaskis Emergency Dispatch can be reached at 403-591-7755.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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