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442 Squadron receives award for evacuation efforts during atmospheric river

Rescue efforts during landslides in last year’s atmospheric river have landed a search and rescue squadron the Barry Marsden Memorial Award.

19 Wing Comox’s 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron is the recipient of the award from U.K.-based organization The Honourable Company of Air Pilots.

The award is given to an individual, complete crew or organization for “outstanding contribution to the preservation of life during natural disasters.”

The squadron’s efforts when travellers were stranded on Highway 7 near Agassiz last November is being recognized. While they were initially called to do a heavy urban search and rescue, they say they saw more help was needed.

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Despite the weather, the team was able to get three Cormorant helicopters full of SAR crew on scene, land on Highway 7 in deteriorating conditions and rescue 311 people, 26 dogs and one cat.

“The sense of duty displayed by all members of 442 Squadron in anticipating what needed to be done was evident from the technicians supporting efforts to launch all available helicopters, the crew members stepping up to volunteer to fly, and the leadership displayed by the command team as the crisis unfolded,” said the organization in a press release.

“These efforts quickly gained national attention and showed the resolve and dedication to Canada that 442 Squadron exemplifies on a daily basis.”

They say it was the largest mass evacuation in Cormorant history.

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