During a rescue this weekend, a 19 Wing Comox Search and Rescue crew was hit three different times by a laser on the ground, shortly after their departure on base.

They were responding to a call 550 km west of Vancouver Island to medically evacuate an injured crew member from a bulk carrier.

A green laser was shone into the cockpit while they were on route. Flight Safety Officer Captain Adam Rietman says the biggest concern when it comes to a situation like that is the tampering of the crew’s night vision. Their call came in after dark on Saturday.

He says this was the first situation at the base involving an aircraft and a laser, and that the crew followed protocol. The air traffic control tower was contacted after they made sure to protect their vision. The tower then coordinated with the RCMP and military police.

Transport Canada says when a laser is directed at an aircraft cockpit, the impact could range from a small distraction to temporary vision impairment to severe ocular damage.

Pointing a laser at an aircraft, no matter what type of aircraft, is a criminal offence. If convicted, an offender could face imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of $100,000 or both.

Transport Canada suggests anyone who wants to conduct laser activities outdoors fill out a notice of proposal form, which can be found through their website.