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A tip of our hat

This week, we feel compelled to tip our hat to the provincial and federal safety specialists and pilots who put their own lives at risk to save those of others.

This week, we feel compelled to tip our hat to the provincial and federal safety specialists and pilots who put their own lives at risk to save those of others.

The past weekend was a fairly typical one for these specialists – a record altitude sling rescue in B.C., a wilderness on-foot search in horrible weather for overdue hikers, and a sling operation to haul a crashed paraglider pilot to safety.

It’s fortunate for many (very many) that our safety experts have a very particular skill set which those in trouble can rely on – when everything else on a given outing goes pear-shaped.

When you see people on hiking trails, even close to town, wearing flipflops and sleeveless shirts and with nary an item of extra clothing or gear in sight, or those floating the Bow River in thin vinyl department store inflatables (hopefully with lifejackets on, but not always), you realize a 911 call could be moments away.

The thing is, like most experts, these specialists make it look easy because they know what they’re doing. Even when recounting their rescues within our pages, they may appear to be less than a big deal – but it’s only because of the degree of expertise these specialists possess.

We’ve mentioned it before, but even the term sling rescue is a bit misleading. A sling rescue is not a matter of a specialist riding in a helicopter to a given location, stepping out and afixing a sling/harness to a victim and flying back out.

RMO staffers have been on-site when a sling rescuer heads out and take our word for it; the exercise is not for the faint of heart. What in fact takes place is that a specialist in safety harness clips onto a rope attached to the helicopter – which then takes off with said specialist dangling below. Above is the chopper, below is the Earth.

This leaves the specialist relying on a few millimetres of rope (say a thumb’s width) and harness as they are hauled hundreds or thousands of feet in the air before the pilot can carefully and acurately hover and drop them off at the rescue site. The process is then reversed, often with a victim also on the line.

Death-defying might be too strong a term for the manoeuvre, but nerves of steel would certainly apply.

SDAB railroads appeal

We are not new to the molasses-like excitement that can be a Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) hearing in Canmore.

Often, they are held for things like built to lines and roof heights, but they are also often about illegal tourist homes and these can be hot button topics for the community.

As with any bureaucracy, a process often cannot move forward immediately and an adjournment is requested and almost always granted.

Except last week.

Last week, SDAB decided it would hold an appeal hearing without the home owners who made the appeal. They were not present and therefore unrepresented.

Whether the board felt there was a lack of respect shown to them or the process by the request we don’t know.

What we do know is that this decision blatantly denied these homeowners the ability to present their side and be heard.

Rescheduling seems like such a small imposition and it is done frequently in the legal system. Items are put off until everybody present, including those legally entitled to defend themselves, are ready.

It seems the SDAB had already made its mind up and didn’t need to hear two sides of the issue and railroaded the appeal.

The very last question the board asked at the hearing was whether or not the appellants felt they had received a fair hearing. Having nobody to answer that question should send warning signals to this public body the hearing was in fact not as fair as it should have been.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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The Rocky Mountain Outlook is Bow Valley's No. 1 source for local news and events.
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