BC emergency dispatchers were surprised to get a call from the Polish Embassy in Ottawa, urging them to send rescuers to a mountain in the BC Rockies where two climbers had been caught in an avalanche, reports CBC.
Robson Valley Search and Rescue manager Dale Mason says the pair were climbing Whitehorn Mountain, near Mt. Robson, on Monday morning when they were hit by an avalanche.
“They tumbled quite a ways down the mountain in the deposit. They ended up on the top of it, and they were able to call for help,” he said.
But the survivors didn’t call within BC, or even Canada. The Polish mountaineers used their satellite phone to call someone in their home country. BC Emergency Health Services communications officer Shannon Miller said she can only guess why:
“They were probably in shock and so they just hit the phone and dialled Poland,” she said.
The call was routed through the Polish Embassy in Canada, and then to BC before BCEHS could send an air ambulance and the Robson Valley SAR team could help rescue the pair from steep terrain.
“That we have a provincial service was key to getting all the quick coordination of our dispatch,” said Miller, who adds that the Polish Embassy was kept informed throughout the rescue.
The climbers, whose names have not been released, were flown to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops with serious injuries.