Thursday, May 22, 2008

E- Look's a ghettobird!

I had just gotten back from a medical call which was the result of some pretty ugly domestic abuse when the tones went off again. "Plane in distress will be making an emergency landing in Burns bog". I threw on my gear as we were driving to the call. Usually this isn't a big deal because the cab is completely closed......but driving in our spare 1970's Engine means there are no doors or roof on the back of the cab. Luckily I didn't have any shoes or clothes fly out the side as we made our way to the bog. (I can only imagine having to tell the driver I needed to stop and run back up the highway to get my $150 boot.)

In the back of the open cab I didn't hear anything until after I changed gear and finally got my headset on. The guy riding on the back with me was a big time practical joker, so I was pretty sceptical when he told me that the dispatcher had just updated us with news that the plane was a 747 with 300 people on board. Only after the 3rd promise of sincerity did I think maybe he was telling the truth. For a couple of minutes I had visions of what could await us....and they weren't pretty. Luckily we got an update shortly after that the four seater plane had managed to land in the middle of the bog and there were no major injuries. The night was getting better.

However, there was still the problem that the pilot and his passengers were still stuck in the middle of the bog and we had no report on the extent of damage to the plane. Burns bog is over 40 square kilometers of trees and unstable marsh land with no roads to access it. Every summer we respond to wildfires in it and often have people sink up to their chests in quicksand-like walking out wasn't an option either. We called in a helicopter to take us to the downed plane. With the sun just setting, I was instructed to grab a couple of lights and then signal the pilot where to land. Not having recently reviewed my helicopter landing signals, I kind of winged it by waving my arms around a little bit and making sure I stayed away from the rotors. The Captain and I ran to the plane with our jaws of life and other tools, ready for our flight to the middle of the I was a little disappointed for not getting to go, as well as obviously being really happy for the passengers when I saw they had already been picked up by the RCMP helicopter. Despite having a fuel line break while flying at 1000 feet over the lower mainland's biggest forest, all three people were able to walk away without a scratch.

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