Extension Volunteer Fire Department, Nanaimo Search and Rescue and B.C. Ambulance took part in a rescue operation Sunday to retrieve a hiker who fell and suffered a head injury and was helicoptered from the Nanaimo River. (Photo courtesy Dave Gaskill, Nanaimo Search and Rescue)

Injured hiker helicoptered from Nanaimo River

Firefighters, paramedics, search and rescue involved in emergency call Sunday

One man was airlifted from the Nanaimo River yesterday after he fell and suffered a head injury.

The injury happened shortly after 1 p.m. June 21 as the 60-year-old man and his son were hiking in steep rocky terrain near River Terrace.

“About 1:30 we got an assistance call from B.C. Ambulance for a 60-year-old male that slipped on the rocks down on Nanaimo River…” said Kevin Young, Extension Volunteer Fire Department chief. “It was quite a ways down there, about 300 metres up river from the power lines.”

Extension fire department deployed its rope rescue team and also called in Nanaimo Search and Rescue for assistance to secure the injured man, but the teams decided that given the nature of the man’s injuries, the safest way to retrieve him from the area was by helicopter.

“It was a little bit risky, I think, packing him up and over all the rocks … it would have been pretty technical,” Young said.

The chief said he was not directly at the scene with the rescue party, but he’d received a report the victim’s symptoms might have indicated a potentially serious injury.

“When it gets like that, you don’t want to take a chance. You want to err on the side of caution,” Young said.

The patient was extracted via helicopter at about 6:30 p.m. and flown to the Helijet heliport at the Nanaimo cruise ship terminal where he was transferred to a B.C. Ambulance and taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

Rescue teams wrapped up the operation at about 7:30 p.m.

“It was a pretty long call for us,” Young said. “Whenever we get down there, that’s the nature of the beast down there.”

He said there area has become a popular spot for hikers and rock climbers and Extension firefighters get called to perform rescues there at least once each year.

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