Air ambulance rescues elderly man stranded in Richardson Backcountry
December 16, 2021 By Jenna Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
An elderly man is safe after he was rescued from the Richardson Backcountry as temperatures plunged well below freezing levels.
The Local HERO (Helicopter Emergency Response Organization) were dispatched at 5 a.m. on Nov., 24 after a call for help that came through the Fort McMurray Fire Department. The man in his 80s parked his truck near the start of the Fort Chipewyan Winter Road and drove his quad into the woods for trapping near the Richardson Backcountry sand dunes.
Trouble began when his quad’s drive belt broke. While he was able to replace it, the replacement also broke. With temperatures hovering around –37 with windchill, the man realized he was in a dangerous situation. He called a friend in Lac La Biche who was able to reach the Fort McMurray Fire Department. They then dispatched the medevac team.
Paul Spring, owner of Phoenix Heli-Flight and president of the Local HERO Foundation, said the man had been able to start a small fire but had trouble maintaining it.
“It was starting to fail in the cold and lose strength. It was barely even visible on our night vision goggles, which is something because those have light amplification technology. We can usually see even the face of a cell phone from 30 miles,” said Spring.
The man did not have any injuries when emergency crews arrived and just wanted to get warm. The paramedics and flight crew took him back to his truck. They waited with him until his vehicle was running and he was warm again. He then told them he did not need to go to the hospital.