A red helicopter lowers someone onto a mountain on a sunny day.
Photo Credit: Technical Evacuation Advanced Aero Medical Society

The New Rescue Team in Town

TEAAM opens a new base in Campbell River

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The non-profit plans to fill a gap in remote rescue and emergency care

There’s a new search and rescue squad on Vancouver Island. TEAAM Aeromedical, a Squamish-based organization, has opened its fourth base at Campbell River-Jubilee Airport.

TEAAM (Technical Evacuation Advanced Aero Medical) specializes in emergency care, rescue, and transport for people who need medical help in mountains and other challenging environments.

So, if you break your back hiking the North Coast Trail, they can come get you.

TEAAM is a collaboration between Blackcomb Helicopters and a group of paramedics, emergency physicians, nurses, rescue specialists and other mountain professionals.

TEAAM CEO Miles Randell is a Squamish paramedic. He said Campbell River was an easy choice for its fourth base.

“Campbell River has always been on our radar,” Randell told the Campbell River Mirror.

“The remote settings and communities of the North Island are really hard to reach with advanced life support and critical care medical care.”

TEAAM also operates out of Squamish, Fort St. John, and Prince George.

TEAAM has paid rescue and emergency medical staff, but it’s a non-profit organization like private rescue services in Switzerland.

The organization is based on memberships. So backcountry skiers, rock climbers, snowmobilers, and other outdoor types can pay an annual membership of $50. Their website is really clear, though: your $50 membership does not cover the cost of the rescue.

Their website is not clear about how much a rescue would cost. If TEAAM picks you up off the side of a mountain, do you have to pay for the helicopter? Or is the cost offset by money from everyone’s memberships?

TEAAM also offers professional memberships to logging, tree-planting, and mountain guiding companies, and other jobs that do high-risk work in remote settings.

“The Truck Loggers Association has reached out to us and shown us that they need us here as well,” Randell said.

Bob Brash is the executive director of the Truck Loggers Association (TLA). He sent a letter in support of TEAAM to Campbell River City Council back in March.

“While there are systems in place to do our best to get injured workers out of the woods, it is decidedly far less than similar services for a resident living in the Lower Mainland,” Brash said in the letter. “The TLA has been working on getting such a program in place for many years.”

Logging is dangerous work. Sometimes loggers get hurt badly, and they’re far away from a good road let alone a hospital.

According to Randall, the BC Ambulance Service doesn’t have the training or equipment to work in remote settings. Even if paramedics come in a helicopter, the chopper has to land before they can help someone.

But TEAAM can lower a paramedic or emergency doctor right from the helicopter. That person can provide care right away and get the patient ready to be lifted back out.

“We’re the only program in Canada that does the work that we do.”

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