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Team effort helps lift patient off Hornby Island

Hornby Island’s fire chief is thanking fellow first responders.

Doug Chinnery said it took a team effort to lift someone in medical distress off the island early this morning.

A helicopter evacuation of the patient could only happen “because of the involvement of so many people,” the department said in a Facebook post.

There are the obvious pieces like the medical staff at the clinic, the Hornby Island Fire Rescue ( HIFR) medical team, the helicopter pilots, and the Air Ambulance paramedics.

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The department noted that if you peel off that layer, “you have the dispatchers, the two HIFR members who set up the landing lights and secured the airstrip, and the four or five HIFR members who got out of bed at 2:30 (in the morning) to help but were able to go home when we saw we had enough people.”

Chinnery said the doctor looked at the patient and decided that he should go to the hospital.

The Bayne Sound connector ferry was down for maintenance and was unable to take the patient off the island.

They were unable to secure a water taxi so the only way to get the patient off the island was via helicopter.

“So the BC Air Ambulance crew came up and picked up the patient and took them off to the hospital,” Chinnery said.

Chinnery wouldn’t go into what happened to the patient because “it’s kind of a privacy thing.”

He said it was a medical emergency.

The island’s clinic staff is amazing with what they have to work with, Chinnery said, “but there are just some things that they can’t do here at the clinic and so sometimes patients just need to go off to a better equipped facility.”

Chinnery said it’s easy to look at the people who are directly involved but there are a ton of people who are involved with getting the helicopter landing strip established and keeping it maintained, and all of the people who are working behind the scenes to get helicopters flying here and get people dispatched.

He noted that it’s a private airstrip so the person who owns it is incredibly generous by allowing these helicopters to land at all hours of the day and night when needed.

Drill down even further and you have the Hornby Coop who in 2017 funded the $2600 purchase of the landing zone lights, the community fund that funded the groundwork, Eben Walmsley and Dan Hamilton who donated time to do excavating and tree work, and the safety team from Helijet that consulted with us on how to set up a proper landing zone.

At the foundation of it all is Chris LeFevre, who is incredibly generous by allowing us to use his private airstrip any time of the day or night to fly sick people to advanced care.

“It’s a big community effort and it’s really easy to look at just the people involved but really there is so much else going on behind the scenes to make this stuff happen,” Chinnery said.

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