Advanced heli-rescuers give urgent care to remote workers in Sea-to-Sky region

TEAAM has performed 3 air missions and 46 ground missions since its inception last year.

Miles Randell and his team of helicopter-flying medics haven't been serving B.C.'s Sea-to-Sky region for very long — but they've already made a lifelong difference to a forest worker who was struck by an 18-metre fir tree and catapulted down a hill.

"It basically shattered his spine and a number of ribs and gave him a small collapsed lung," Randell told CBC News. "So he was in fairly critical condition."

The worker was in a remote site outside of Squamish, an area where air ambulance staff couldn't reach. And it would have taken ground paramedics hours to get there via the rough bumpy road.

"He would have had about an eight-hour trip from the job site to the local hospital," said Randell. "Then it would have been a couple of more hours before he was able to make it to a trauma centre and receive the surgery he needed."

But Randall and the rest of his specially trained crew, known as a Technical Evacuation Advanced Aero Medical (TEAAM), were called to the site within minutes. They provided him advanced life support on scene.

The worker was transported to Vancouver General Hospital in less than two hours. Randell says the physicians told him the swift extraction saved the patient from paralysis.

Specialized service

TEAAM is a non-profit society that uses hoists to reach patients in remote settings, like work camps, to extract them and bring them to hospital faster than road vehicles or traditional air evacuation.

Workers are medically trained to provide advanced medical care, coming from a variety of different backgrounds, including emergency physicians, nurses, and search and rescue workers.

"We've got some of the most experienced mountain rescue guides in Canada," said Randall, who founded the society about two years ago. He says the goal of the program is to fill a big medical service gap for remote workers.

The issue was identified in a 2017 report from the B.C. Forest Safety Ombudsman, which says B.C. Ambulance Service (BCAS) employees aren't trained for extraction.

Instead, WorksafeBC regulations require employers have emergency transportation plans in case employees get injured. But some of those plans can be far from efficient.

In 2014, a logger in Haida Gwaii had his leg crushed by a fallen tree. It took 11 hours to get him appropriate medical care — a trip that included two boats and a ride in a mechanic's vehicle down a bumpy logging road.

By the time he reached Vancouver, part of his leg had to be amputated. The report suggests swifter medical service could have prevented it.

Finding finances

TEAAM is currently financed by a patronage program. Employers who want to utilize the service pay an annual fee per employee, which covers the emergency crew's operational costs.

"The long-term plan is to be successful enough through our patronage program that we find enough patrons that we build a rescue fund that covers the cost of rescues," Randell said, adding that they're hoping to add hubs in different regions.

Just two weeks ago, the group hoisted a tree planter out of a worksite after a 159-kilogram boulder rolled over his leg outside of Squamish.

WATCH: TEAAM crews hoist injured tree planter

"The TEAAM model should be the standard of care for the industry — especially the tree-planting industry," said John Betts, executive director of the Western Forestry Contractors Association (WFCA).

The WFCA and the Truck Loggers Association are lobbying the province and WorksafeBC for additional support for the TEAAM program.

The group argues that the service can save millions of dollars in both workers' compensation and health-care costs.

"This is not replacing the ambulance service. This is to do technical rescue, retrieval, extrication, and emergency medicine for people who have been injured on remote sites that are outside the timely reach of the ambulance," added Betts.

Jon Hernandez · CBC News · Posted: Jul 03, 2019 5:00 AM PT

Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Luncheon with Vail Resorts CEO Robert Katz

Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Luncheon with Vail Resorts CEO Robert Katz

Blackcomb Helicopters was honoured to sponsor a luncheon with Vail Resorts and their CEO Robert Katz. John Morris, General Manager of Blackcomb Helicopters, was asked to give the opening speech. 

“We have been providing mountain operations, tourism, rescue and heliskiing support to Whistler Blackcomb since 1989, a time when the mountains were still arch rivals and competing for ticket sales.”

Morris goes on to describe the importance of our partnership with Whistler Blackcomb, “Our relationship with Whistler Blackcomb and Vail is a true partnership.  We often find ourselves collectively working in challenging environments and our respective crews need to be on the same page.  If we have a bad day out there working in the mountains, the experience is equally shared by both parties and we work as a team to resolve our problems and get the job done safely and efficiently.” 

“Vail Resorts has embraced the progressive policies around the environment and sustainability that have been developed and adopted by Whistler Blackcomb.  In an effort to support these initiatives we are doing our part.  Since January 2018, all flying done by Blackcomb Helicopters for Whistler Blackcomb has been conducted as a carbon neutral operation.  To accomplish this, we presently utilize carbon offsets in support of a reforestation project on Quadra Island near Campbell River in an attempt to keep these initiatives as local as we possibly can.”

For more information of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and the event, visit

The Walter Zebrowski Scholarship Fund

The Walter Zebrowski Scholarship Fund

In September 2018, Blackcomb Helicopters donated $5,000 to the Walter Zebrowski Scholarship Fund. Walter used Blackcomb Helicopters’ services frequently in maintaining the television receiving station on Sproatt Mountain.

The Scholarship Fund began in 1997 after Walter died and has been administered by the Rotary Club through the Community Foundation of Whistler. Each year a member of the graduating class at Whistler High School who demonstrates community involvement, academic excellence and leadership is awarded a $1,000 scholarship. To date there are have 21 recipients.

His daughter, Ewa describes her visiting her father’s work on top of Sproatt -

“In 1996 after the memorial service for my father took place in Whistler, my husband and two sons, then 13 and 11, flew on the top of Sproatt Mountain to scatter his ashes according to his wishes. It was the first time we had ever been on Sproatt.”

“We landed on a piece of plywood and witnessed the beauty, 360 degrees! I was moved to see the structures my father had built to house the TV receiving system. Structures that looked like sculptures left in nature by an artist. I photographed what I saw. Beautiful. I understood his joy and adventure.”

Below is a beautiful remembrance by Ewa, contributed by The Rotary Club.

Wladyslaw Zebrowski was a man with a vision.  In the mid-60s he fell in love with Whistler Mountain.

Having immigrated to Canada in 1948 after the end of World War II, Captain Zebrowski found himself the owner of a chicken farm, a far cry from an army career!  He had had an illustrious war career as a soldier in the Polish Army under British Command and had visited many place with exotic-sounding names like Dzalalabad, Arkangelsk, Uzbeckstan, Monte Cassino.  He had been awarded numerous medals for bravery, having been a prisoner of war on a few occasions.  He was idealistic, hard-working and dedicated.  He had no interest in returning to a Poland under communist rule and so decided to come to Canada in search of freedom and a new life.  He always remained proud of is Polish roots and traditions.

In the mid-60s, Walter, as he was known to his English friends, decided to move to Whistler.  Whistler barely existed.  There was no highway, no electricity, no running water, no sewage system.  There was only this big beautiful mountain waiting to be discovered!

Walter had always loved the mountains.  Having had enough of city life, he decided to leave Vancouver.   He found the idea of settling in this virgin territory exciting.  He wanted to be a pioneer, to experience the beauty of the Canadian wilderness.  As a child I remember him trying desperately to find a partner to join him in the adventure of developing the crown land that he had purchased in the valley.  There were no takers.  So alone he accepted the challenge.

He lived at Whistler for 30 years.  During that period he founded Garibaldi Whistler Development Company Limited, developed his land, built condominiums and homes with Arthur Erickson, created a park with a trout-filled lake, founded the Whistler Water Works, the Whistler Volunteer Fire Department, was a charter member of the Whistler Rotary Club, was co-founder of the Chamber of Commerce, and even succeed in bringing television to the valley, against all odds and much criticism.  Today, the television receiver still stands on Sproat Mountain bringing television to people at Whistler, thanks to him.

He became the community watchdog, often protesting vociferously when he did not agree with Municipal or Provincial politics.  He was respected and appreciated for his determination and energy.  Walter knew how to get things done.

Walter saw Whistler evolve from a quiet ski hill to a world-class ski resort.  He himself often remarked that the changes were unbelievable!  He was proud of Whistler.

In later years I often heard him speak about how important he felt it was to give back to one’s community.  For him, Whistler had represented a dream.  He liked the idea of belonging and contributing to a new, vital and growing community.  He liked the idea of making a difference.  He felt he was part of Whistler’s success, of Whistler’s history.

On June 26, 1996, Whistler Mountain lost its oldest citizen and I lost my dear father.

Article contributed by Ewa Zebrowski Walter's Daughter.

Minto & Blackcomb Helicopters

Minto & Blackcomb Helicopters

As a proud community member of the Bridge River Valley, Blackcomb Helicopters has been supporting the Minto Communications Society since its inception over 10 years ago.  We are delighted to have helped not only with the construction of the original mountaintop repeater sites, but also with their ongoing maintenance.  Minto provides a critical service to the community and we are delighted to play a role in their success.

About Minto:

Minto Communications Society is a non-profit, community owned & operated organization providing high quality communication services to the people of the Upper Bridge River Valley since 2008.

The core values of MCS are economic, social development & education. MCS believes high speed internet service & the related services will significantly enhance the quality of life in this region by contributing to educational opportunities for residents & economic development businesses opportunities throughout the entire area.

B.C. campaign finishes with a flourish

B.C. campaign finishes with a flourish

The Great Trail in British Columbia boasts natural sea shores, salmon-bearing streams, marshland, forests, meadows, mountains and valleys. Much effort has gone into Trail development, but by this summer, it was only 95 per cent connected.

That’s when Valerie Pringle, co-chair of the Trans Canada Trail Foundation, approached a well-known Vancouver philanthropist.

David McLean, founder of The McLean Group, assumed that Pringle’s visit would be courteous, but short. Yet soon he became inspired. “Valerie is so full of love for our country and her enthusiasm is infectious,” says McLean, who offered to raise the remaining funds needed.

McLean committed 20 per cent from his family foundation. “I am a great believer that if you raise money for something, you have to first look into the mirror and make a personal commitment,” he says. McLean’s friends Gordon Diamond and John Tognetti (in association  with his parents Giancarlo and Odette Tognetti) each matched his gift. Other donations followed from Peter Armstrong, Michael Audain and Robert Lee among others, and the required funds were raised.

“The B.C. campaign was completed in time for the province’s 100 per cent connection celebration, a milestone in the national connection plan to mark Canada’s 150th birthday,” says McLean. “The Great Trail fosters appreciation of the natural bounty in B.C. and beyond,” he says. “The aspiration of connecting a trail that unites Canada is a very fitting endeavour.”

These philanthropists join other major B.C. supporters of the Trail, among them Teck Resources Ltd., the Ross Beaty family, Robert A. Quartermain, The Annual Foundation (in honour of Loretta and Ted Rogers), TELUS, The Greyross Foundation (held at Vancouver Foundation), TimberWest, David Aisenstat, Ross Mitchell, Jim and Sandi Treliving, Columbia Basin Trust, HSBC Bank Canada, Vancity and Canfor.

Whistler Fire Rescue Service responds to blaze on shores of Green Lake

Whistler Fire Rescue Service responds to blaze on shores of Green Lake

Whistler Fire Rescue Services responded to a fire along the shores of Green Lake late in the afternoon, July 23.

"The call came in about 5:30 p.m. this afternoon," explained acting fire chief Chris Nelson.

"The duty crew responded with a rescue boat and Blackcomb Helicopters responded as well (by water bombing)."

Help from above

Help from above

Introducing the helicopter pilots behind SAR missions, infrastructure maintenance and more…

Whether it's airlifting an injured backcountry adventurer to the hospital, setting up communications infrastructure or giving sightseeing tours, local pilots at Blackcomb Helicopters need to be ready for anything.

They have no choice - lives often depend on it.

U.S. snowboarder Brock Crouch survives being buried by avalanche near Whistler

U.S. snowboarder Brock Crouch survives being buried by avalanche near Whistler

Blackcomb Helicopter pilot Josh Poole, who was stationed on an opposing ridge, lifted off to survey the scene. He pointed to debris and directed Campos and the others through a safe route to reach Crouch. He then landed, grabbed a shovel and jumped out of his helicopter while the blades were still spinning to start digging where the edge of Crouch’s board was sticking out, Campos said.

Powering Up

Powering Up

Blackcomb Aviation is one of only a handful of companies that can perform this operation.

Building A TEAAM

Building A TEAAM

Randell and Windsor approached Blackcomb Helicopters in the town of Squamish, where they planned to base their new response unit.

Immediately, Blackcomb management saw the vision behind the paramedics’ proposal and agreed to support the founding of Technical Evacuation Advanced Aero Medical, or TEAAM.

Donaldson Salutes Canadian Operators

Donaldson Salutes Canadian Operators

Providing the most comprehensive line of IBF solutions, Donaldson Aerospace & Defense is the industry leader in the design, development and manufacture of high-performance engine IBF systems for commercial and military propulsion systems.

Donaldson’s most popular IBF systems in Canada are for H125, Bell 407 and Bell 205 helicopters, with hundreds of these IBFs deployed by fire, utility and corporate operators, including Blackcomb Helicopters, Capitale Hélicoptère, Fireweed Helicopters, Selkirk Mountain Helicopters, Universal Helicopters, Yellowhead Helicopters, and many others.