The Kootenay Heli-Rescue Society of Nelson, BC specializes in helicopter flight rescue systems (HFRS), also known as long-lining or HETS (helicopter external transport system). Search and rescue missions in the West Kootenays are becoming more arduous and time-consuming, and traditional ground-based rescues in highly technical environments can be dangerous for rescuers. The lengthy extrication process involved in removing injured people from remote areas can be grueling for all involved, in addition to causing significant delays in patient treatment.
Enter the Kootenay Heli-Rescue team. Rescues that might traditionally require many hours of sustained effort by large groups of rescuers can now be completed in a matter of minutes. This team of specially trained rescuers can effect fast - and safe - rescues of lost and injured people from difficult terrain, a service which is increasingly in demand due to the rapidly growing use of our mountainous backcountry regions for both recreational and industrial activities.
Research has shown that helicopter longline systems reduce the risk to rescuers when compared with ground-based rescues in difficult terrain. Helicopters can quickly and safely insert trained rescuers into potentially dangerous and highly technical environments and then remove victims and personnel to a safe staging area, dramatically speeding up the extraction process and reducing the amount of time rescuers are exposed to difficult and dangerous conditions.
Until recently, this system was not available outside the Lower Mainland of BC except for Parks Canada personnel based out of Banff, Alberta. In recognition of the need for specialized helicopter rescue services within the West Kootenay area, the Kootenay Heli-Rescue Society (KHRS) was formed in February of 2003 as a joint effort of the Beasley Rescue Society (BRS) and the Nelson Search and Rescue Society (NSAR).
The Kootenay Heli-Rescue Society was formed to:
1 - Establish and maintain an organization to provide specialized rescue services on mountainous and other difficult terrain to the RCMP, fire and rescue services, BC Ambulance Service, BC Parks, the Emergency Management BC (EMBC), private industry and the public, when requested;
2 - Provide and promote training in the field of helicopter rescue to Kootenay Heli-Rescue Society members and/or other invited guests; and
3 - Cooperate with and assist other organizations and government agencies with similar purposes.