While the summer has been surprisingly quiet thus far, the long weekend and the start of August has been very different. A few little black bears have been in town almost constantly, taking advantage of the berry crop that has ripened in the valley bottoms, keeping us very busy keeping them separate from the tourists. This can also includes the occasional, brief closures of four lanes of the Trans Canada highway to either kick a bear out of town, or to 'facilitate' their crossing without becoming road pizza.
The forest fire hazard has been high to extreme, so everyone has been on edge, watching for lightning and smoke reports. Fire crews and helicopters are on constant standby, and 'smoke flights' are regular. But this also gives us a chance to fly needed gear, supplies and horse feed into many of our back country cabins.
Driving on the promenade.
The first call was for a patient at the back of Lake Louise suffering severe abdominal pain. Often the quickest way to get there is by bicycle, so I grabbed a medical kit, drove my truck on the sidewalk in front of the Chateau, then biked the rest of the way.
Talking to the patient (helicopter in background).
When it was decided that she needed to be evacuated, we called one of our helicopters that was nearby because of the fire hazard. The pilot was able to land on the mud flats close by, so in short order the patient was being treated at the Lake Louise medical clinic.
Helicopter with the Chateau Lake Louise in the distance.
At the same time this call had come in, there was another call about an unconscious male lying on the side of the highway towards Jasper. Lake Louise Fire Dept and RCMP responded to this one, but the person had been picked up and was being transported in a private vehicle, so there was the usual confusion involved till all the details got sorted out.
We were just back at our base unloading gear when we got another call of a young lady who had taken a fall near Lake O'hara, just across the continental divide in Yoho National Park - which we also look after. This time, a different helicopter was dispatched from Banff, as both rescuers and patient would have to hang beneath the machine as the terrain was far too steep for a landing. In spite of some head injuries and an apparent broken back she was soon transferred to a waiting ambulance at Lake Louise for the trip to Banff and/or Calgary.
This was only the start of a busy weekend. Things would only get crazier.