Peter wrote quite many articles about flying and mount 7. Here are articles written or published in 2001. Contributed by Brenda Bowle-Evans
First off the bat, this is not bad, it is all good! It is about where the current arrangements are at, not about a series of happenings. Is has nothing to do with skeletons or closets - not that any of the readers will have any of those things, of course. So here goes:
Wire sling helicopter rescues are now much more available than previously. Some changes happened last summer, actually during our meets here. Alpine Helicopters, who setup a base here the previous year, and who scooped the best two local pilots in the process, were already in the current dictated state of the art rescue business. This means they were fielding machines equipped with the latest equipment demanded by regulations, although they did not have one in place at Golden at the outset. This happened last summer, when they stationed one of these machines here. Both resident, local Alpine pilots have not only the necessary endorsements to operate this machine and its associated equipment, but they have the so important experience. The placement of this machine was well coordinated with Parks Canada. Now although the new regulations do permit people other than Parks wardens to be certified for sling rescue, for the time being that is where the presently certified personnel are. In relation to Golden, there are wardens at Glacier Park to the West, and the Yoho and Banff Parks to the East. This means access to wire sling crews from the Rogers Pass summit, Field or Lake Louise. The point is that they are close by. I have worked in machines between Golden and Rogers Pass. You are there faster than you can drink coffee. The situation of a machine having to be dispatched from as far away as Canmore should now be a thing of the past. This means quicker response and less cost, a good combination.
In addition to the adjacent Parks crews, there are moves within the Provincial Emergency Program to train wire sling crews. This is likely several years away from crews in place, but this is the direction of intention.
We need to avoid unnecessary searches. Last summer we had some, though nothing more than good intentions all round. Helicopters flew several hours looking for pilots who, although they had gone down sort of unexpectedly, were in fact doing OK, and did not need helicopter rescue. What happens sometimes is that one event is seen by several completely different people. I have been able to field a few of these in the past, when the local RCMP has called me up at work and told me they had just received a call from someone who was say hanging up their washing on the line and had seen a PG going all over the place and must have crashed. A phone call or two or a quick spin out the NLZ and I have learned that nothing of the sort has happened, or so-and-so was doing wingovers or the like, and I call back and tell them thanks but relax. Last summer we had a PG who most definitely spun in, in full view of Nicholson and probably all over town. He spun in just below the cliffs just below the upper PG launch. Some pilots there saw it all, ran down and discovered that clean underwear were the greatest need. Others further away feared the worst, and pretty soon those of us on the HG launch are wondering what this chopper is doing buzzing around just about where we want to go thermalling. After a while we were able to get enough confirmations of events to call the pilot on the air band and tell him he could stand down. By a scramble of rescue organisations' errors, there was never any bill for this. In subsequent debriefings about this with Alpine, PEP and the RCMP, here is what we came up with:
I have personally been through the routine of calling in for a possible rescue from a phone about 50 km down range, on a weekend when the calls are all routed to a central dispatch in Cranbrook, which is about 240 kms from Golden, and been asked, 'which one, there are three going on already'. In this case, there was enough information properly called in that a fifteen minute round of phone calls determined that my sighting was under control by other means.
There is nothing new about the allocation of costs, more than the reduced costs from less flying time. Flying time also depends on more than point of dispatch. There is search time and rescue site location to consider, and there can be others. For the time being whether we or you get a bill is dependent upon whether or not it is an ambulance call. This means whether an ambulance would be called for, due to pilot injuries. So, picture a pilot hurt in the middle of a field in the valley bottom, and ask the question, does this need an ambulance? If the answer is yes, then an ambulance should be called for. There is a discussion about where the injured person is, and very quickly the questions, “Is there a road?” and “Can an ambulance get there?” get asked. When the answer is plainly “No”, because this person is not in a hay field but in the middle of a cliff half way up a mountain, this is the point at which to start requesting a helicopter rescue. In these cases then, the helicopter takes the place of the ambulance, and its cost are charged as such. If you are properly covered with medical insurance, then no bill is issued for the rescue. More about the medical coverage later. If the answer to the need for an ambulance is a “No”, then we or you will be getting the bill - and this is where our Contingency Fund comes in, because then one of the designated site persons will assess the need and if appropriate authorise the rescue to proceed, acknowledging that the costs will be invoiceable to our fund. [Note from webmaster: there are no officially designated person. Visit mt7.ca for current info and keep in mind that commonsense should prevail.] Alpine personnel in Golden know that we have the funds in place to adequately cover this scale of cost, and they will proceed. If the pilot in need of rescue has not contributed to our fund, then there will be the discussion of who IS going to pay, and their personal family and/or friends will be invited to put down their credit cards on it. We have to hope that the event of no contribution, and no solvent family or friends does not arise.
This has been brought up a number of times, by people like Fred Wilson, André Nadeau and others, and I am going to go through it some more. The lack of it was highlighted by the horrendous situation that a Québec pilot got into one or two winters ago, and I dare say there are others. This site is in British Columbia. So, those of us who live here make use of the British Columbia Medical Plan, which we refer to as BC Med. There may be other plans, but for ordinary folks, this is the one, and it works. Now, many of us have the premiums paid for through our employment, and a number of those employers have extended benefits plans. Whichever way, we are covered. This BC Med coverage pays for the lions share of ambulance services. There is a minimum fee of $54, and Golden to Calgary last summer was $137. But pay attention now - that is NOT the full cost. I happened to have to assist a friend with ambulance trip fees recently, and in the envelopes were cards describing some quite sobering information. One part contains the preamble over how the ambulance costs are subsidised by the BC Government for residents of BC covered by BC Med insurance. The other side presents a different reality. For Non-Residents/Non-Beneficiaries, the costs are $396 for ground service, $2400 per hour for helicopter service, and $6 per statute mile for fixed wing service. While you are absorbing this, do not think that these costs will not increase over time.
Now lookup your own personal medical coverage. Does it cover out-of-province costs? This applies equally to BC pilots going elsewhere as to non-BC pilots coming here. Of course, ambulance fees are just part of out-of-province costs that may be incurred. There are all sorts of medical and emergency insurance plans all over the place. I must urge everyone to look up these boring details and make sure you are covered. When you get right down to the number of days or length of time that you need this coverage for, as a HG/PG pilot, for most it is not really that long that you are away from home base.
The plan that I know of, thanks to Fred Wilson, and which André has highlighted too, is through the Canadian Automobile Association. The CAA has a plan that you as a third party can even sign up a visitor for who does not speak either of our languages. Start from www.caa.ca and browse from there. It is divided into provinces, and all have 800 numbers. At the last count it was of the order of $2 per day for a plan that would look after everything from crash to getting home. Read the small print of course, and ask questions - things do change.
Hoping you all protect yourselves fully - and then never need to use it.
Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, 06 Jan 2001
This is a big thank you to all those who had a part in my recent Level V rating award. I just know that Fred Wilson was behind it, as too Martin Polach and Phil Siscoe. Thank you to those three. As Randy Parkin noticed when I was presented with it in Golden, it left me speechless for once! The significance is gradually sinking in as time goes by, and as I absorb from the web site that this now makes just 24 masters over 21 years, since 1980. I do what I do I think just because if I can do it, if it helps, if people like it, and if the energy is positive, then why not? It is certainly a big part of my life that never existed years ago. The recognition acknowledged is an honor in itself. Thank you one and all. Now I must do my best to live up to it!
23 August 2001
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