By David F. Rooney
Local resident James Jarvis wants to know why BC Ambulance Service paramedics sat in the parking lot at Boulder Mountain for three hours on the day Alana Nicol died and refused to come to her assistance.
The answer, according to BCAS Unit Chief John Warren, is policy.
“BCAS policy prevents us from going into the backcountry,” he said in an interview late last week, adding that backcountry rescue operations are the domain of Revelstoke Search and Rescue personnel.
But is an accident scene 4.5 kilometres from the base of a well-used snowmobile area actually “backcountry?”
“Absolutely, that’s backcountry,” says Revelstoke SAR chief Buck Corrigan.
He said Wednesday that paramedics may fly into certain areas by helicopter when they can land right at an accident scene but they are otherwise not trained or equipped to deal with accident scenes in mountains.
In the case of 38-year-old Alana Nicol, she accidentally over-throttled her snowmobile on a curve on Bezanson Trail and accelerated off the trail and over a cliff on the late afternoon of Dec. 30. She hit a tree, broke her neck and crushed her chest. She then fell into a pile of old logs and slash near the base of the tree and, although other snowmobilers rushed to her aid and administered CPR for almost two hours, she died at the scene.
It took about 90 minutes for SAR volunteers to be assembled and reach the scene but by that time it was too late.
Jarvis, who works for HMC, said he listened to all of the conversations involving BCAS and Revelstoke SAR on a scanner and what he heard appalled him.
“The paramedics told the BC Ambulance dispatcher: ‘We are not going up to her. They have to bring her to us,'” he said in an interview after he contacted The Current with concerns about the way the paramedics appeared to ignore Nicol’s plight.
But both Corrigan and Warren said everything that could be done was done and that the presence of a paramedic at the scene would not likely have made any difference as Nicol’s injuries were so grave. Despite the efforts of people at the scene, she exhibited no pulse or any other sign of life and could not be revived.