Stranded snow cat drivers rescued with help from Blackline Safety
With heavy snowfall over the busy holidays in Fernie, British Columbia (B.C.), two Fernie Snowmobile Association (FSA) volunteers found themselves stranded on a back-country trail after their snow cat swung over a drop while grooming the Corbin Valley Trail.
Curtis Hagley and Darcy Hutchinson, weekend volunteers with the FSA, were driving one of the club’s snow cats when they lost operation on one of the two motors.
“We lost the right-hand drive on the groomer when the mogul master swung over an 80-foot drop,” says Curtis Hagley who knew they were 8 km away from the warmth of the FSA station. Both the driver and colleague inside the snow cat were hanging precariously above the rocky drop.
Realizing they were stuck, Hagley climbed out of the snow cat into the knee-deep snow and unhooked the mogul groomer, then attempted to wiggle their way out, but with the right motor gone, this was not possible. Grabbing the Blackline G7 device, he pulled the latch to call for help. Hagley, who works for Suncor in Firebag says, “I highly recommend it (Blackline’s G7) because everything works flawlessly. I use monitors all the time and this system proved itself.”
Blackline’s Safety Operations team member, Dakota Tanner, received the alert and understood the seriousness of the situation immediately. She could see precisely where they were as the Blackline G7 provides instant visibility through the web portal.
The alert was received at 10:24 and following the safety protocol assigned to this device, Dakota was able to reach the first-in-line of emergency command, President of the FSA, Dave Hozjan at 10:26.
“The reliability of communications between the operator, Blackline Safety, and our FSA staff meant we were able to initiate our in-house emergency plan within 2 minutes of the notification and get the right people and resources on the scene within an hour to effectively mediate the situation,” says Hozjan.
“I was leery when I first saw the Blackline Safety device — I had no idea where the message went,” Darcy Hutchinson says, as he recalls sitting in the snow cat next to Hagley. “But when the device gave us the text message ‘David Hozjan is on his way’, I thought, ‘PERFECT! We have people coming!’”
Hutchinson goes on to say, “I never used the Blackline Safety device before and I think it’s great. You can full on send a message with details about the situation through the device and I was impressed by how fast they responded. It’s unbelievable how efficient and easy it is — if you can operate an iPhone, you can use this device.”
Help arrived on the scene within 20 minutes from the time the first message was sent. Several club members responded to the calls and came in from Corbin and Fernie to help retrieve the snow cat and mogul master groomer. Hagley, Hutchinson and the equipment were retrieved safely before sunset.
“The devices offer an additional layer of safety for our volunteers and workers who operate in remote back-country settings while providing ease of mind to their families at home and the FSA executives who's first priority is the safety of our team out there,” said Hozjan.