City of Trail snow removal crews were called in to do some quick snow clearing by the Gyro Park boat launch Monday afternoon to allow the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue boat to launch. The call for the boat came in after a mid-afternoon vehicle incident between Birchbank and Genelle requiring its assistance as well as rope rescue. One patient was transported by boat to Gyro Park where it was met by an ambulance. No further details were available at press time.

UPDATED: River rescue near Birchbank

First responders, including police, ambulance and fire rescue were called to a vehicle incident near Birchbank on Monday.

Update: Tuesday 11:15 a.m.

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What began as a two car accident between Birchbank and Genelle, wound up becoming an exemplary case of first responders working together and saving a life.

The incident began just before 2:30 Monday afternoon. Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue received a dispatch call, the first report stated there was a head-on collision involving two vehicles, Fire Chief Terry Martin told the Trail Times.

Police later confirmed there was an accident, but it was not a head-on crash. The female driver of a small van headed towards Genelle had crossed the centre line and side swiped a larger commercial van that was headed toward Trail.

The force of impact spun both vehicles into the ditch. From there, the incident took an unusual turn.

“An update soon followed stating that an occupant of one of the vehicles and possibly a vehicle were in the water/river,” Martin said. “At that point, we dispatched our river rescue boat to respond from the river and our rescue truck to the scene on the highway.”

When the fire truck arrived on scene, on the highway, the crew was informed that the female occupant had exited her vehicle and made her way down the bank to the train tracks and continued to the river.

Meanwhile, an ambulance had already arrived on scene and its attendant followed the woman down to the water.

RCMP Sgt. Darren Oelke says the unidentified ambulance attendant built up a good rapport with the woman and was able to talk her closer to the river’s edge.

“She was in a big back eddy and going around in a circle, but too far out for anyone to reach her,” Oelke explained .

As the ambulance attendant stayed on shore and engaged the woman, RCMP Cst. Chris Elwood came on scene and waded waist deep into the frigid water to assist her to shore.

While this was going on, two firefighters made their way down the bank to assist Cst. Elwood. By then, the rescue boat arrived at the site, which was approximately one kilometre upstream from the Birchbank picnic grounds.

“Two of our members went down the bank to assist the RCMP member,” said Martin. “The three of them were able to successfully bring the female to the shore. Within a few minutes, the river rescue boat arrived and transported all of them to the Gyro boat launch where they were met by the BCAS crew from Trail.”

Sgt. Oelke says the woman remained in the water for up to 20 minutes.

“They all did a great job,” he said. “She was apprehended under the Mental Health Act … she was not injured from the accident but from hypothermia.”

The driver of the other vehicle was shook up but not physically injured.

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Monday, 3 p.m.

City of Trail snow removal crews were called in to do some quick snow clearing by the Gyro Park boat launch Monday afternoon to allow the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue boat to launch. The call for the boat came in after a mid-afternoon vehicle incident between Birchbank and Genelle requiring its assistance as well as rope rescue. One patient was transported by boat to Gyro Park where it was met by an ambulance. No further details were available by press time.

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