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'Rescue' in the Ganaraska Forest near Port Hope

By PETE FISHER, Northumberland Today

GANARASKA FOREST - A mock rescue involving an elderly man lost in the woods came to a successful conclusion by members of 424 Search and Rescue Squadron from CFB Trenton.

The scenario saw an 80-year-old in distress who was lost in the Ganaraska Forest sometime overnight on Monday and was found on Tuesday morning.

The man was said to be suffering from medical issues and needed to be taken to hospital immediately.

Major Claude Courcelles from 424 Search and Rescue Squadron said the helicopter crew was given a general location by people who had found the patient, but had to find the man among the trees in the forest.

Members of the crew spotted Courcelles, who was acting the part of the patient, perched up against a tree.

With leaves being tossed around and trees bending because of the force from the blades of the helicopter, the Griffin helicopter slowly moved into position, hovering just a few metres over the tops of the trees and battling 20 knot winds, the two SARTECS (Sgt. Martin Tessier and Mcpl Darryl Jambrich) were lowered, followed by a stretcher to an area nearby.

After assessing the patient, he was taken back to the same area to be hoisted out and transported to hospital in Peterborough.

"It was very challenging for them and they did very well," Courcelles said.

With above-average temperatures and the colours are still in the trees, there are a lot of people walking in the forests.

Courcelles said it was a very hard search because of the denseness of the forest. "The helicopter has to fly very slow and low and try to distinguish a person on the ground."

Members of 424 Squadron train daily in every aspect of search and rescue and are alway prepared.

At one point during the exercise a cable from the helicopter became tangled in the trees, but Courcelles said that is exactly why members of the crew and SARTECS (Search and Rescue Technicians) train every day and night so they can overcome the obstacles.

The exercise Tuesday was focused on a member of the helicopter crew who was training to be an aircraft commander.

A key to every mission, Courcelles explained, is to work as a team.

"The pilot is the one that is taking everyone to work and the Search and Rescue Technicians will either jump off from parachute or be hoisted down by cable, so it's always teamwork," he said.

The Ganaraska Forest allows 424 Squadron allowing to train periodically in parts of the 11,000 acre woods.

424 Squadron's covers up to Nunavut, northern Ontario and northern Quebec with a lot of rescues around the Great Lakes.