Snowmobilers rescued after driving off 30-foot embankment southeast of Hafford, Saskatchewan

Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan – Around 3:40 p.m. December 22, 2021, a call came in to Blaine Lake RCMP Detachment from Blaine Lake Emergency Medical Services (EMS) notifying police officers of a three-snowmobile collision. A group of snowmobilers unfamiliar with the terrain had reportedly driven off a 30-foot embankment.

EMS from Shellbrook, Blaine Lake and North Battleford were already en route as injuries were reported. The location was rural – southeast of Hafford, Saskatchewan – and the winter weather and fading daylight were important considerations for first responders.

Blaine Lake RCMP Detachment Commander Sgt. Aaron Kading promptly contacted his colleague, Cst. Warner, to assist him. “There were six snowmobiles in the group – three went over the embankment and three did not,” Sgt. Kading shares. “We drove to Highway #40, which was the closest anyone could get with a vehicle to the scene. You could see the snowmobiles across the field, they were dots in the distance.”

EMS had already walked across the field once and transported back the first injured person on foot. Sgt. Kading and Cst. Warner followed their lead and did the same. “The snow was too deep in the field to drive through, so everyone walked the 600 yards and down the embankment with a spinal board. We had serious concerns for the injured people and everyone was very mindful of how the transport back to the ambulances was going to happen. We didn’t have a lot of options.”

It was -12 degrees Celsius ambient with the wind whipping snow around. The snowmobilers were dressed for the weather and wearing appropriate safety equipment, like helmets. Alcohol and drugs were not considered a factor.

Snowmobilers rescued after driving off 30-foot embankment southeast of Hafford, Saskatchewan
Snowmobilers rescued after driving off 30-foot embankment southeast of Hafford, Saskatchewan

“It was a 30 foot drop off the embankment and the only way out was to climb back up it,” says Sgt. Kading. The second injured person was carefully prepared by EMS. “I tried holding onto weeds while we climbed back to the top, gripping the board, and at the same time doing my best to keep the injured person stable.”

A third injured person was able to walk from the scene unassisted. Around 15 people total, including two RCMP officers, had responded. Shortly after 5:00 p.m., just as it was getting dark, everyone was back at Highway #40. The three injured people were safely transported to hospital by EMS for treatment.

With 7.5 years of service at Blaine Lake Detachment, Sgt. Kading is quick to thank the partners his detachment works with on a near-daily basis. RCMP officers are required to complete regular first aid training, but Sgt. Kading points out the importance of having highly qualified medical first responders on scene with them. “I’m very thankful for our strong partnership with EMS; with their expertise, they took the lead. Hafford Fire and Rescue and several members of the public assisted too. It’s this shared response to a call for service which underscores the importance of community collaboration.”

Blaine Lake RCMP

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