Camp Leader: Before Camp

Leader's Meeting

Prior to the pre-camp meetings, the 3 leaders will meet to discuss the following:

  1. Contact Information
    • Leaders
    • Contact in community to liaise and leave emergency contact info.
  2. Helicopter safety and loading protocol
  3. Equipment: pickup and return coordination
  4. Propane:
    • Camp 1: 3 in, 2 out
    • Camp 2: 2 in, 2 out
    • Camp 3: 2 in, 3 out
  5. Satellite phone and emergency protocol
  6. =VHF rentals : to use for communicating with helicopter pilot only
  7. Review ice axes and bear spray - protocol for helicopter
  8. Food

Before camp, familiarize yourself with the camp equipment and procedures:

  1. Set up and take down of tents
    • First time leaders should arrange a time with the Equipment Coordinator to do a dry run of the tent setup and take down.
    • The cook tent and supply tent frames and couplings are stowed in bags marked with their weights.
    • The tent assembly instructions are in the equipment box.
    • The tent site should be as flat (not necessarily level ) as possible.
  2. Set up and operation of propane bottles and stoves
    • Use care when inserting fittings.
    • Test the connection with soapy water.
    • Turn off the tank valve when not in use
  3. Set up and take down of kitchen table
    • Nails used to keep the sections and lower shelves in position are in the tool box.
  4. Set up and take down of biffy
    • Biffy seat and tent assembly instructions are in the biffy storage case.
    • The biffy is to be moved each week to reduce the amount of traffic over a single path.
    • Lime is added to biffy hole once per day.
    • Camp 1 digs one hole
    • Camp 2 digs two (2) holes (one for Camp 2 and a new one for Camp 3)
  5. Radio operation
    • A single VHF handheld radio is only used to communicate with the helicopter pilot. The camp leader or loadmaster should use it to avoid shouting over the helicopter noise.
    • Prior to camp, the site selection coordinator should ask the helicopter company which frequency to use. This information is to be programmed into the radios when picked up from SK Electronics.
    • The camp leaders should familiarize themselves with the use of the radio. If in doubt, ask the pilot for help.
    • The radio is kept in the supply box. It is only used for ground to helicopter communication.
  6. Use of the satellite phone and medi-vac procedures
    • Become familiar with the operation of the sat-phone before camp.
    • The satellite phone is to be only used to contact the RCMP in case of emergency. Do not contact the helicopter company directly or the KMC will be liable for any costs.
    • After arrival in camp and camp is set up, each leader to phone the Cook Leader Coordinator (or designate) that all is OK and specify if anything is amiss. This verifies the working status of the satellite phone. Texting, in and out of camp, will be possible. The phone number will be given to participants prior to camp.
    • It is kept in the supply box. Instructions and phone numbers are in the sat phone case.
    • Use any available medical people and supplies to treat the casualty until help arrives. See Section on Helicopter Evacuations.
  7. Helicopter loading procedures
    • See Section on Helicopter Loading Procedures
    • Make sure you know how to get to the helicopter rendezvous location
    • The Site Selection Coordinator will provide a map with directions on how to get there, info on road conditions, travel times and camp sites near the rendezvous location. Leader to notify camp participants of rendezvous time.
  8. Hold a pre-camp meeting (preferably in June) with all camp participants.

Camp Meeting Preparations

  • Print out the assignment list, shopping lists, home cooking recipes
  • Pick up 8 coolers from the Equipment Coordinator
  • Pick up propane tanks from the Equipment Coordinator

In the kitchen box a binder will contain the food lists, in-camp recipes, menu, cook’s job description, and Hiking Camp sign-out sheets. The cooks & leaders can add comments/suggestions in the binder for future camps and updates to the manual.

Contact your cook and make sure s/he has received the cook’s package. It is essential that the cook attend the pre-camp meeting.

Leaders must contact their campers with pre-camp meeting date and location. This meeting is usually held in June and in a central location for camp participants. Leaders should attend this meeting in person. Skype is a poor alternative.

Camp Meeting Agenda

Equipment Storage Location: West Kootenay Self Storage Ltd., 2820 Osachoff Road, South Slocan, BC. Contacts: Wayne Hohn : 250-551-3026, or and Andrea Vowell : 250-354-7473, for access to equipment.

Ascertain how each camper is travelling and where staying on the Friday night.

Getting there and parking

Information regarding the rendezvous meeting time, location and directions to the site will be provided to campers when recce is completed. The recce may occur after the pre-camp meeting. Leader should determine the type of vehicle participants will be taking to the rendezvous site. Specify 4 wheel drive, clearance, ability/willingness to negotiate water bars or brush, etc. Determine carpooling arrangements. Each camp must have adequate vehicle capacity to transport food and equipment and fuel if necessary.

Arrive one hour prior to helicopter arrival, aiming to be ready 15 minutes before.

The chain saw (to clear the road if necessary) must have fuel and chain oil.


  • Participants shall advise leader of any medical condition (allergies, chronic illnesses, special diets, etc.) prior to camp. Participants will fill out the Hiking Camp Emergency Contact Information form. Link to form
  • Special diets cannot be accommodated.
  • Camp leaders have the absolute discretion to exclude any camper from participation if he/she judges that the camper is likely to cause harm to self or others. Example: this could pertain to camper(s) arriving at heli site ill or infirm, particularly with an obvious infectious disease.
  • The first aid kit is for emergencies only.
  • Campers must bring their own medications and first aid kit supplies.

Task assignments

  • Assign tasks at pre-camp meeting – use task assignment sheets.
  • Ensure everyone understands what they are to do, including those that are not at the meeting.

Shopping advice:

  • Try to stick to the recipes provided.
  • Request that good quality food products are bought. Clarify that good quality does not mean organic, gourmet or specialty unless it can be purchased for a comparable price.
  • If you choose to purchase items not on lists provided or substitute for your own personal taste resulting in costs which are much greater than the average of the three camps, the treasurer may not reimburse you the full amount claimed.

Fresh produce, dairy, and bread should be picked up on Friday in as fresh a state as possible.

For packing, the best cardboard boxes for packing are “Liquor Store” type. For staples, dry goods, cookies. Small boxes are easier to load into the helicopter or sling. Boxes must be labeled. Banana boxes are great for bread.

Lunch meat: No bologna.

Reimbursement: Remind campers to mail their reimbursement requests with receipts to the Hiking Camp Treasurer, Sherolyn Haakstad, B-2165 Bealby Point Road, Nelson, V1L 3E2, to arrive no later than the 10th of September.

Home Cooking

If a majority of campers agree, one or more meals can be vegetarian. Document the choices which are made, and shop accordingly.

  • If salmon loaf is selected instead of ham, it must be served on Monday.
  • Saturday dinner – which soup to have - borscht, lentil or minestrone.
  • spaghetti – decide if meat or vegetarian
  • chilli - decide if vegetarian or meat
  • Thursday dessert - decide if chocolate cake or chocolate zucchini cake.

Fresh fruit

  • 2 apples and 2 oranges are provided for the week for lunches.


  • Campers can bring a reasonable amount of gorp for 7 days.
  • Gorp will be included in the weight allowance.
  • Extra food, beer or pop is not brought into camp because of weight.


  • Everyone, including the cook, brings 2 dozen homemade cookies or squares.
  • Pack in cardboard boxes.
  • Enclose in a plastic bag to keep dry.


  • Coolers and freezer pacs will be distributed at the pre-camp meeting.
  • Label contents of coolers – use duct tape and permanent markers. Do not use markers to write on coolers – write on tape.
  • Freeze 1 or 2 litre milk containers for ice – they last longer than ice pacs. Do not use plastic jugs.
  • Keep two coolers empty for the frozen dinners that campers will bring to the rendezvous point.

Leftover food

  • Non-perishable items are taken to a food bank by each camp.
  • Do not leave anything for the next camp except the food staples that are for all camps.

Weight limits & marking

  • Weight limits 50 pounds per person or 45 pounds per person in a couple (90 pounds total).
  • Gear – including trekking poles, ice axes, chairs, ropes, crampons, etc - must be included in weight allowance.
  • All packs and gear are marked with flagging tape (Camp 1 BLUE, Camp 2 RED, Camp 3 YELLOW)
  • Advise campers that the Camp Committee gives Camp Leader the authority to have overweight items left behind.


  • Groceries, coolers and other supplies are transported to camp by whoever purchased them.
  • Make arrangements for the return of propane tanks and cleaned coolers, as well as disposal of garbage, recycling and return of fuel barrels.
  • The Camp 3 leader ensures the return of all camp equipment to the storage location, along with an appropriate number of live bodies to assist with unloading.
  • Arrange for the transport of the camp equipment boxes, tents, and other camp supplies. All camps need one or two full size trucks or wagons to transport equipment boxes, tents, and other camp supplies. Please note: only those transporting the large equipment boxes and camp gear will share in the $100.00 gas reimbursement. Additional reimbursement for fuel barrels will be $25 per barrel.

At the heli site

  • Park cars away from landing zone.
  • Bring chicken wire to protect vehicles from porcupines
  • Bring breakfast and lunch for Saturday
  • Assign camper to bring Coleman stove, large pot and tarp in case road camp is required.
  • The Coleman stove needs to have a connecting hose that attaches to the standard propane tanks. The cook pot needs a lid and a ladle. The tarp needs enough rope and pegs to secure properly.
  • Rearrange frozen home cooking, dairy, and lunchmeat in coolers on Friday PM as per Management of Coolers and Frozen Food note. Do in the shade and cover with reflective tarps.
  • Remind campers of rendezvous time

Helicopter procedures

  • Appoint helpers who are experienced with helicopeters.
  • Use task assignment sheet to keep track of who is doing what.
  • Remainder of helicopter procedures to be discussed at heli-site.

Management of Coolers and Frozen Food

It is highly recommended that the coolers be reorganized on Friday evening at the helicopter-loading site in the following manner. In a shady area that will remain out of the sun until loaded on the helicopter, aggregate all the coolers containing frozen food, dairy and meat, and frozen cakes and muffins. The cook and two helpers are necessary. Using two appropriately sized coolers (the older coolers are smaller than the new ones), separate out the food that needs to be kept cold into one for Tuesday/Wednesday, and one for Thursday/ Friday/Saturday morning from the list below. There should be no need to include ice in these coolers if they are full. They should be almost full and kept cold by the frozen and cold food inside along with the other cooling methods used at camp. The cook should be familiar with and have a copy of the menu. If the order of food is changed, those changes need to be made to the lists below. The food for Sunday/Monday that needs to be cold is put in a third cooler with some of the ice and moved to the cook tent. A fourth cooler will contain only ice. A fifth cooler could be used for some of the bread if necessary. The produce cooler is a separate cooler.

Tuesday/Wednesday cooler
Tuesday dinner (curried chicken), Wednesday dinner (chili), ham for Tuesday breakfast, 2x10% cream (half and half), 2x whipped cream, 3 dozen eggs, one third of lunch meat and cheese, apple pies, cornbread, upside down cake.
Thursday/Friday/Saturday Cooler
Thursday dinner (roast beef), Friday dinner (ham), ham for Thursday breakfast, chocolate cake, 1 tub margarine, 3x10% cream (half and half), 2 whipped cream, 1/4 of lunch meat and cheese, sausages, 3 dozen muffins.
Tape the coolers shut. Label with days of use and contents. Place insulation jackets around and on top of coolers.
Method of Refrigeration
Set up tarps in trees or on the north side of a steep bank to give complete sun protection. Obtain as much snow as possible (tarps seem to be the best way to carry snow but coolers also work. Place the above 2 coolers on a bed of snow, pack snow around them, cover with its own reflective blanket and forget about them until needed. Surround on one side for accessibility with produce cooler and coolers of ice (there will be a great deal of ice left over to keep the Sunday, Monday food cold, and the rest can be stored in a separate cooler on its own). Cover with wool blankets kept wet constantly (depending on temperature, wind, sun exposure) and then reflective tarps

Keep one cooler in the cook tent for that day and possibly the next day’s food. It could also contain most of the dairy if desired. The cook should make a list of all cold food needed for that day and make one trip to the coolers.

If there is no snow
Find an area near next to camp near a creek, lake, or water source and create a constantly shaded area with tarps. If storing in the creek, create a dam in the creek if possible to contain the coolers or stack rocks on them so they don’t float away. Keep watch after large rains or if it is a hot day when the volume of the creek may increase significantly. Close to the creek and not in the water is best. Keep the two coolers for Tuesday to Saturday and a cooler holding ice separate, with an insulation jacket around and on top, under their own tarp and blankets, and keep the blankets constantly wet. Keep the produce cooler and any other coolers you may want to keep in the shaded cooler area separate under their own tarp/blanket system so as not to disturb the two “cold coolers”. Ice can be added as needed to any of the coolers as they are taken down to the cook tent.

On-Site Helicopter Loading Procedures

One person loads and unloads people and keeps track of the loading order. The Loadmaster is generally responsible for loading/unloading the helicopter and slings and directing operations and helpers. He is at the back door of the helicopter. Helpers are generally responsible for loading/unloading gear. One camp does all the loading and unloading at each end. Therefore camp 3 will both load themselves and unload camp 2 at the parking lot. Camp 2 will do all the work up at camp. Unloading of camp outbound gear is moved well away from landing site and kept organized away from camp inbound gear.

Timing and behaviour:
Campers should be at the heli recci site one hour before and be ready at least 15 minutes before the helicopter arrives. Things can get hectic, safety is most important and everyone should remain calm and not be in such a rush that they make mistakes. We only pay for the time the helicopter is in the air. Campers not involved with operations should stay away from the unloading/loading area.
Packing the helicopter:
It is essential that all cargo holds and slings be packed as efficiently as possible to ensure the entire camp is transported with a minimum number of flights. Loadmasters should take responsibility in directing inexperienced helpers. Keep sleeping bags, sleeping pads and tents out of duffels so that they can be packed in the rear hold of the helicopter. At least one duffel should also go in that rear compartment.

For safety, it is essential that each camper’s daypack, tent, sleeping bag and pad go with them. This applies to outbound as well (campers cannot be left stranded in camp while their essential gear has flown out).

All helicopter crew personnel must wear a safety vest. Safety vests make the helicopter crews visible to the pilot, other crew personnel, leader and campers. They also identify who is in charge, who can assist and who should be in the area.

Flag everything and always be aware of the flagging tape color on the bags you are handling:

Camp 1 – blue, Camp 2 – red, Camp 3 - yellow.

The leader will assign each flyer with a number indicating the order of your flight. The number of passengers varies with the helicopter, the pilot and fuel weight. Putting couples on the same flight is avoided in case of an accident. Usually daypacks are carried inside. The timing of sling loads will be determined as no passengers go up with slings.

We rent two VHF radios to be used only for communicating with the pilot. One radio will be left in a prearranged vehicle at the staging area and one is taken in to camp on the first flight and left in the storage box. Traditionally, the Parking Lot Loadmaster uses the radio to keep in contact with pilot. However, the pilot may or may not opt for radio contact. Also, contact may vary in regularity or may be one-way only. We will discuss with the pilot as to preference and establish which radio frequency/channel to use. Ideally, we should have two radios so we have one at each site (Parking Lot and Campsite) during procedures. If anyone has a VHF they are welcome to bring it along.
Pilot Pre-flight Briefing
The pilot will go over all procedures and safety. We will make changes to our procedures accordingly. The pilot may choose to use their own people to handle or oversee loading/unloading. They may ask that some of us play a role and will brief us on procedures. Occasionally the pilot may prefer to transport all or some of the gear inside the helicopter’s cabin. Tie down loads that may shift.

Basic Helicopter Safety

Depart and approach from left side (pilot sits on right side) only, between 9 and 11 o’clock (where the pilot can easily see you). Do not depart uphill or approach downhill (main rotor). Keep head down, crouch, keep hands and objects below head (main rotor). Secure hats.

Take shelter behind vehicles or terrain on take-off and landing. Protect eyes as dust and debris may be blown towards you. Keep light, loose items secure (so as they are not blown away or drawn into helicopter rotors).

Two staging areas will be created.

Staging Area 1
People and Small or Light Items Area (items to go into helicopter baggage compartment). Should be well away from, and level with or lower than landing site. Light items do not go into the sling and they fit best into the rear luggage compartment, campers gather here in groups with their daypacks, tent, sleeping bag and pad. Load one camper at a time, rear seat first, then front. The loadmaster will help campers with seat belts and headsets, close and latch back door first, then the front door (doors are able to hit each other).
Staging Area 2
Baggage and Equipment Area (items to go into sling)

Area should be well away from, and level with or lower than landing site. Slings are constructed here. There will be two or three sling loads, order is dependent on fuel weight.

Ice axes and hiking poles should be bundled and taped. Keep small or light items out of sling. Table and biffy tent poles must be bundled with ends in can when placed in sling. Load equipment boxes and coolers into sling with their hinges facing to outside.

Helicopter loading/unloading activities can be very frantic. The camp leader, load masters and helpers should read these procedures and think through their approach to the task.

Bearspray must be put in bags and not in the cabin.

Who does what

The Camp Leader directs the loading activities. S/he puts together the passenger loading list and gives the list to the inbound loadmaster. S/he also consults with the pilot about where and when to do the sling lift. Only the leader will discuss flight details with the pilot.

The Camp Leader establishes 2 staging areas: one for people who are to board immediately, and one for baggage and equipment. The baggage and equipment staging area should have enough room to spread out and load the slings.

The Loadmaster communicates with the pilot, directs passengers to seats and hands them their daypack, assists with seat belts and closes the doors.

Helpers load baggage, equipment and slings.

Here’s a general description of how it works:

There are two helicopter loading teams for camps 1 and 3, and one helicopter loading team for camp 2. Each of the helicopter loading teams consists of 1 loadmaster and 3 helpers.

Camp 1 Inbound (blue tape) and unload at Camp (two Camp 1 teams needed)

On the first flight, one of the Camp 1 helicopter loading teams (1 loadmaster and 2 or 3 helpers) flies to the campsite along with cook and leader. (The number of helpers on the first flight depends on the size of the helicopter). This team assists with the unloading of gear and people at the campsite. They also carry with them on the first flight emergency food, tents and survival gear for emergency purposes.

The other Camp 1 loading team stays at the parking lot to assist with the loading of people and gear there. The loadmaster for this team gets the passenger list from the camp leader.

Camp 2 inbound (red tape), Camp 1 outbound (one Camp 1 team and one Camp 2 team needed)

The Camp 1 loading team takes on the responsibilities of loading gear and assisting people on and off the helicopter at the camp site.

The Camp 2 loading team remains at the parking site assisting with the loading and unloading of people and baggage there. The loadmaster for this team gets the passenger list from the camp leader.

Camp 3 inbound (yellow tape), Camp 2 outbound (the Camp 2 team and one Camp 3 team needed)

One of the Camp 3 loading teams remains at the parking lot and handles activities there. The loadmaster for this team gets the passenger list from the camp leader.

The Camp 2 loading team stays at the camp site and is responsible for loading and unloading activities at that site.

Camp 3 outbound and staging site unload (two Camp 3 teams needed)

One of the Camp 3 loading teams takes the first flight out to the parking site. This team unloads people and gear.

The other Camp 3 team remains in camp with the camp leader until all people and baggage have been loaded. The loadmaster for this team gets the passenger list from the camp leader. This team keeps possession of the emergency food, the tents and survival gear in case of an emergency until the last flight out. It is the camp leader’s responsibility to see that the camp site is left in good order.

General Information

Passenger loads are determined by the size and type of helicopter. The pilot will give specific directions. Some pilots will not allow day packs inside the cabin. In this case, make sure that each passenger has his/her day pack loaded in the baggage compartment.

As load size varies, assign each camper a number from 1 - 20 indicating their flying order. Avoid putting couples in the same flight in case of an accident.

Make sure that the passengers to be loaded and their day packs stay in the passenger staging area until the helicopter is emptied. When the Loadmaster signals, the passengers with their day packs can move to the helicopter and load one at a time.

Try to bring up most or all of the passenger's gear at the time of their flight. If no further loads are allowed that day because of weather or darkness, they will have their own camping equipment.

Helicopter load order depends on helicopter pilot preference but a general plan might be (1) people; (2) people; (3) sling; (4) people; (5) people; (6) sling; - if required - (7) people

Load as much gear as possible on each trip in the baggage compartment of the helicopter. Usually 2-3 large duffels go in first then fill the spaces with all the small things left out.

Slings are unloaded at the camp site as soon as they arrive so the sling can go back on helicopter on next flight. First group in will assist with unloading helicopter at camp site, protect supplies from rotor wash. Last group in will assist with loading at parking site

It is important to ensure that perishables are not left out in the sun (place in shade or cover with space blanket).

Campers must keep clear of the helicopter area. Campers may visit with off loading campers from the other camp after the helicopter leaves.

Load the back seat first. After the back seat is loaded, load the front seat. Do not try to close the front door until the back door is closed to avoid banging the doors together.

When all the gear and people are in the helicopter, make sure that all the doors are securely latched. The loadmaster will make sure that everyone helping to load/unload the flight is together in a group beside the helicopter, and that the gear is being held down. The loadmaster can then signal the pilot that it is OK to take off.

Remind campers to park their vehicles well away from the helicopter landing site. Remind campers to bring breakfast and lunch for Saturday. The first camp meal will be dinner.

It is important that everyone stay away from the tail rotor. No one should go under the tail boom. No one should touch the exhaust pipe above the cargo hold. No one is to approach or leave the helicopter from an uphill side.

Always stay on the left-hand side of the helicopter so the pilot sees and knows where everyone is. Make sure that everybody stays away from the tail rotor!

Keep all non-essential people away from the loading area. Stage them safely away with their carry-on packs.

After the first load of people goes in, the sling should be laid out and loaded with the camp gear. The pilot should be consulted as to when he wants to make the sling lift(s). It usually depends on the fuel load. Remind the pilot that there are three sling loads going into Camp 1 and coming out of Camp 3. The slings should be loaded and transported so that there is someone available at both ends of the trip to unload and roll up the sling.

If only one sling is available, be sure it gets unloaded and sent out on the next trip (up or down).

Ice axes & ski poles must be taped together with duct tape.

Use light items (foamies, sleeping bags) to fill empty spaces in cargo hold. Don't load light or small items in the slings.

When the helicopter lands, the loadmaster helps the passengers out. The helpers remove the gear/baggage from the helicopter and stack it close by.

Disembarking passengers and those unloading stay with the gear to hold it down during take-off (especially the light items that are easily blown away). Make sure everyone stays together so the pilot can see what's going on.

Excess baggage will be added to the sling loads. It is very important to fill the helicopter with as much gear as possible each trip to avoid having to take an extra sling load.

Load the plywood gear boxes and the coolers with hinges to the outside so that the lids don't open when the sling is lifted.

If it's necessary to carry gear in the cabin, use extra caution when loading. Take direction from the pilot. Be careful of any wires, instruments, headphones, etc. The windows are fragile! Make sure the windows are protected with foamies or sleeping bags so that nothing gets pushed into the window. Tie down any loads so they won't shift in flight. Don't stack coolers on top of each other - they slide.

Helicopters – Potential Complications

We have experienced some complications with the helicopter transportation. Listed below are items to keep in mind.

  1. The change of location option. When roads wash out or forest fire closures force a change, an alternate site should be available.
  2. Bad weather delays. If fog/clouds or other factors make flying impossible, it may be necessary to camp on the road. Camp one will have all the gear so there is usually no problem. Camps two and three must make provision to bring some emergency cooking equipment with them (eg. Coleman stove and pot to heat soup, tarp to cover food etc.).
  3. Non-performance by the helicopter company (due to bad weather, high winds, broken equipment, etc.). Make sure that the pilot or company representative offers solutions if they cannot complete their mission. Be aware of other machines that are available, but insist that the contractor make any arrangements. They must assume any extra ferry costs. Only the camp leader should speak for the group - no one else should offer comments or directions to the pilot.
  4. The number of trips the helicopter makes determines the cost. Make sure that loads are full to minimize trips. For a four passenger helicopter, five trips carrying passengers, and two carrying gear in a sling will normally be required. In addition, camp one (going in) and camp three (coming out) will require an additional sling load to transport camp gear. Make sure that this is fully discussed and understood by the contractor. Thirty years of experience has given the Camp confidence of what works. Camp has had pilots insisting on short loads due to being fully loaded with fuel to start flight operations. This should only be acceptable if the weather is extremely hot, humid or windy.
  5. Question the helicopter company specifically about fuel on board at the pick up site. In remote areas they should be bringing fuel in barrels to maximize flight efficiency. This is called 'working for the customer' and is a best practice in the industry . Insist on it. Slinging barrels does add to ferry time but is cost effective over all. Astar type craft with a ski basket travels slower but can carry small drums of fuel. An option Camp has used in the past is to bring 45 gal drums ourselves.
  6. Ensure that the pilot brings slings. In the unlikely event there are no slings, extreme caution is necessary to ensure that camp gear is stowed safely in the helicopter. Ask the pilot for direction in loading (see section on Loading Procedures). This condition has occurred when the original contractor has sent a subcontractor without notice. They showed up without slings and no knowledge of what was expected.
  7. Assign someone to record flight time to cross-check billing.

Altitude, temperature, humidity and turbulence all have a major impact on the performance of the helicopter, therefore Hiking Camp should take measures to record these conditions during flying operations. Load master perhaps? Operators use these variable conditions to justify slow times/speeds. Performance charts are available on line from the manufacturers of helicopters. Wikipedia has a very good explanation of helicopter performance.

Helicopter Landing Site Selection

  1. There are a number of things to consider when choosing a rendezvous site for the helicopter loading area including:
    1. room for the helicopter to land
    2. plenty of room for parking
    3. places to stage gear, load slings, and for people to wait.
  2. The minimum area that the helicopter needs to land is governed by the diameter of the rotor. The blade diameter is typically 35 feet. A buffer of at least 20 feet should be provided around the helicopter. Therefore, the minimum area required is 75 feet. Pick a much larger site if possible.
  3. If possible, choose a site with no trees in the immediate area. Fewer trees around make it easier for the pilot to manoeuvre.
  4. A site with a drop-off to one side with no trees gives the pilot an opportunity to gain air speed by dropping down from the landing site. Higher air speed will give better lift for the helicopter.
  5. The rotor wash throws up lots of dust and debris. Clean the area.
  6. Parking should be available for at least 20 cars. Car pooling is strongly advised. Since the cars from the first camp will still be parked when the cars from the second camp arrive, a large parking area is needed. Low clearance vehicles should be discouraged unless it is obvious they will be able to negotiate the terrain.
  7. Much gear is flown into camp. It should be divided into two piles - one pile for the bulky items that will be flown into camp in the sling, and one pile for the smaller, lighter items that will be placed in the baggage compartment in the helicopter. The pile for the sling loads should be some distance from the helicopter landing site so that the sling can be loaded without interfering with the helicopter loading. Choose a relatively flat spot so the sling can be stretched out and the gear stacked on it without tipping over.
  8. Passengers should be staged from a spot that is below the level of the landing spot if possible. Do not allow passengers to approach the helicopter from a high point because of the danger of running into the rotor.

Helicopter Evacuations

It may be necessary to call for assistance to:

  • Transport a sick or injured camper
  • Rescue an injured camper
  • Search for a lost camper
  • Emergency contact information is on a laminated card with the satellite phone.

The RCMP have jurisdiction in all circumstances. Each year the Hiking Camp Committee must provide the applicable RCMP detachment the map coordinates, a hard copy of the camp location, camp dates and number of people in each camp. The Hiking Camp committee must also contact the RCMP after the camps to confirm the closure.

A second contact IF directed by the RCMP is the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) 1-800-663-3456. Their Emergency Coordination Centre (EEC) assigns a Task number for a Search and Rescue (SAR) when directed to do so by the RCMP.

Any helicopter requested without the consent of the RCMP will be at the cost of the KMC and/or the injured camper. Always consult the RCMP for direction.

Be prepared to provide the RCMP or its designated contact the satellite phone number and:

  • Your name and that you are with the Kootenay Mountaineering Club
  • Concise description of the emergency
  • The age of the person involved
  • The extent of injuries or illness
  • The level of consciousness of the patient
  • How well the patient is breathing
  • The location of the camp and/or that of the injured person
  • Map coordinates: latitude and longitude and/or Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM)
  • The name of the helicopter company which transported the hikers to camp
  • The call back number of the satellite phone (this will be on the phone)

Injured or sick campers who are evacuated by the RCMP or BCAS may be billed at a later date. In most cases, the cost will be covered by extended medical benefits. If the camper is billed directly, a claim can be made for reimbursement.

Portable Radio Operation

The KMC Hiking Camp has an ICOM radio. It is used for communication with the helicopter during flights in or out of camp. It is not used to communicate with campers who bring in their own VHF radio. Reason – radio may be inadvertently left turned on draining the batteries.

The radio is kept in a plastic container in the supply box. It is wrapped in foam padding for protection. The antenna is removed for storage. Instructions are also stored in the container. There is an extra battery pack for the radio in its container as well. (NOTE: Check and replace the batteries as necessary each year.)

NOTE: The portable radio does not have a particularly long range, especially when used in a valley. It has considerably better range when used from the top of a hill or a ridge or when there is a direct line of site to the receiver. The portable radio usually cannot be relied on for communication over more than 5 - 10 km.

Search And Rescue

Although campers are encouraged to be aware of the hazards that exist in mountain terrain, to use caution when hiking, to hike in pairs or groups, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks, accidents can still happen and hikers can get lost. In the case of serious injuries or lost hikers, it may be necessary to evacuate the injured or mount a search for the missing.

This procedure suggests some steps that may be taken to address the situation. Because of the many situations that could occur, this procedure includes only some basic, common sense guidelines.


  1. If a hiker is seriously injured, a decision must be made to phone for a helicopter evacuation.
  2. The injured person should be provided first aid or whatever care can be provided by those in attendance.
  3. If the injured hiker can be moved, try to return to camp.
  4. If the injured hiker cannot move very far, try to find a relatively flat, open spot in which a helicopter can land and make the casualty as comfortable as possible.
  5. If the casualty cannot be moved, make him/her as comfortable as possible at that location.
  6. If only one person is with the casualty, he/she must make a decision whether to return to camp to get help or to stay with the casualty and wait for help.
  7. If a decision is made to stay with the casualty it must be understood that help may not arrive until the next day or later if the party didn't sign out properly. See the section on Wilderness First Aid.
  8. If two or more people are with the casualty, one should stay with the casualty while the other returns to camp to get help.
  9. Before returning to camp, the messenger should mark on a map the exact location of the casualty so that she/he can be found quickly. It's very easy to forget where you are in the anxiety of the moment. The individual returning to camp must understand that the injured hiker is depending on him/her to get back to camp safely so must not rush and take a chance on creating another casualty.
  10. The Camp Leader should be notified. The leader or in his/her absence, someone designated by consensus of those in attendance, should use the satellite phone to contact the RCMP. See Section on Helicopter Evacuations.
  11. When the helicopter and paramedic arrive, direct them to the location of the casualty.
  12. Let the emergency personnel control the situation. Provide any assistance requested.

Lost Hikers

  1. If one or more hikers have not returned to camp by the end of supper time, consideration should be given to the fact that someone might be hurt or lost.
  2. Recognize that it will be dark in a short time and that it is not prudent to jeopardize the safety of the other hikers in camp by mounting a night time search.
  3. If the lost party has signed out, it may be reasonable to send a group(s) out in the direction that the party might be expected to return in case assistance can be given to an injured hiker who is making slow progress. The search party(s) should return to camp at a predetermined time. The search party(s) should not stay out after dark and expose themselves to harm.
  4. If the search party is unsuccessful in locating the missing hiker(s), the Camp Leaders should use the satellite phone to contact the RCMP to alert them to the emergency. A search will not be started until first light the following morning. See Section on Helicopter Evacuations.
  5. Prepare lunches and make arrangements to have breakfast at first light.
  6. If it is not possible to contact the RCMP in the evening, select at least two strong hikers who are prepared to hike out to the cars starting at first light. Try to make contact with the RCMP in the morning before the hikers set out.
  7. If two people do hike out to the cars and contact is made with the RCMP, arrangements should be made with the emergency personnel to locate them and fly them back to camp.
  8. Organize search teams, recognizing the capabilities of the people who are on the search teams. Plan a search in the area(s) indicated by the hikers on the sign out sheet or in area(s) where they were seen by other hikers. Have the stronger hikers cover the more distant or difficult areas. Never jeopardize the safety of other campers.
  9. Have the search teams go to bed early so they will get as much rest as possible.
  10. Get the search teams underway in the morning to look in the last known location of the lost hikers whether contact has been made or not.
  11. Make sure that the search teams return to camp before dark if the missing people are not found.
  12. If the lost party has not signed out and no one has any idea of where they might be, wait until the emergency team arrives before sending any search parties out.
  13. Let the emergency personnel control the situation. Provide any assistance requested.

Wilderness First Aid

The first aid kit has a detailed book.

The following information has been provided by the St. John Ambulance.

Before you go - some things to know

  1. Be physically and medically fit to perform strenuous exercise over a long period.
  2. Take a first aid course.
  3. Let someone know
    • where you are going
    • what route you will follow
    • how long you will be gone
    • who is going with you
  4. Have a survival plan.

Priorities of survival

In the event of a mishap, what can you do? What should be done first? What is the correct sequence of priorities?

Assess hazards
Remove the danger or get the injured and others away from the danger to prevent further injury.
Sit down; calm down; assess the situation; get your bearings; evaluate your resources; decide on a plan; reassure others.
First Aid
Treat anyone who has been injured including you.
Gather, cut and shelter a supply of tinder and firewood. Build a fire. A fire gives heat, light and comfort. It dries your clothes and signals your position.
Erect a tent; build a lean-to or a snow house. Find a way to get out of the wind, rain, snow, or direct sun. A shelter could take priority over a fire in extreme weather conditions.
Make smoke, put out brightly coloured clothing, or use your mirror to attract attention. In winter, make tracks in the snow in an open area.
Find a supply of pure water or boil water for 10 minutes and allow it to cool for drinking.
Look for sources of food only when all other steps have been completed.
Stay put
Unless you know exactly where you are and you are positive you can travel to a known road or settlement, don't go for help. Your chances of survival are better where you are.

Wilderness First Aid

The following are some treatments that can be used for common problems that can be encountered in the mountains.

Remember! You are in a hostile environment.
  • Protect yourself and the patient from dehydration due to exposure to sun and wind.
  • Shock can be more severe because of cold and a feeling of desperation.
  • Keep the casualty warm!
  • Open wounds are subject to infection and/or possible freezing in winter weather. Give extra protection.
  • Hypothermia can be experienced in warm weather, watch for the symptoms. Keep dry.
  • In case of a serious emergency, always interrupt your trip to get medical aid as soon as possible.
Artificial Respiration

A more current procedure may now be in place.

When breathing has stopped, mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration (A.R.) must be started immediately. Seconds count! Brain damage may occur after four minutes.

  • Tilt the head back by pressing down on the forehead with one hand. Place the fingers of the other hand under the chin and lift forward to pull the jaw up and to move the tongue away from the back of the throat. This will open the airway to allow air to reach the lungs.
  • Reassess breathing. Opening the airway will sometimes restore spontaneous breathing. If breathing does not resume, start artificial respiration.
  • Pinch the casualty's nostrils, take a deep breath, and place your open mouth over the casualty's mouth, making a tight seal, and blow slowly into the mouth. Take your mouth away and let the casualty exhale. Give one more breath.
  • Assess the carotid pulse. If a pulse is present, resume artificial respiration at a rate of one breath every 5 seconds (for adults). If there is no pulse, and you are trained, start CPR. If you are not trained, continue A.R.
  • Send for medical aid.
Bee and Wasp Stings

Insect stings can be fatal if they are numerous or if the sting causes swelling that restrict breathing.

  • If casualty show signs of allergic reaction (swelling around the eyes and mouth, hives, severe nausea and difficulty in breathing) assist in administering prescribed antidote only if in the casualty's possession.
  • Start artificial respiration if necessary and take precautions to prevent shock (reassure casualty, keep warm).
  • Remove the stinger by scraping it from the skin. Do not use tweezers since squeezing the stinger will inject more venom.
  • Antihistamine creams, rubbing alcohol, weak ammonia solution, or a solution of bicarbonate of soda may be applied immediately.
  • If the sting is in the mouth, give a mouthwash of 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda to a glass of water or give ice to suck.

Think RED!

  • Rest to slow circulation.
  • Elevate the limb to reduce blood flow.
  • Direct pressure applied to the wound will stop blood flow. Do this first.

To control bleeding, first apply direct pressure with the hand over a dressing if available. Do not remove blood-soaked dressing; add another and continue pressure. When bleeding is controlled, maintain pressure and secure dressings with bandages. Maintain elevation and immobilize the injured limb.


The size, location and depth determine how serious a burn is and whether the person's life is in danger. Burns on infants and the elderly are always serious.

  • Immediately immerse the burn area into cold water to relieve pain.
  • Remove such constrictive items as rings or footwear, before swelling begins.
  • Cover the burn with dry, sterile dressings (no ointments) and bandage lightly.
  • Monitor breathing when the burns are around the face.
  • Seek medical aid.
Fractures and Sprains
  • Steady and support the injury. Do not move the casualty unless he is in danger.
  • Dress wounds and control bleeding.
  • Immobilize the limb with bandages on padded splints if the casualty must be moved.
  • Check for signs of a pulse beyond the fracture or joint injury. No pulse! Get medical aid quickly.
  • Reassure and keep warm to prevent shock.

Frostbite makes the skin white, waxy and numb; freezing causes hardening.

  • Warm frostbitten area gradually with body heat; do not rub.
  • Do not thaw frozen hands and feet unless medical aid is remote and there is no chance of refreezing. They are better thawed in a hospital.
  • If there are blisters, apply sterile dressings and bandage lightly to prevent breaking. Seek medical aid.
Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a shock-like condition caused by exposure to hot humid environments.

  • Move casualty out of the heat; place at rest.
  • Loosen tight clothing.
  • Keep head low; raise feet and legs slightly.
  • For cramps, give the fully conscious casualty a glass of slightly salted, cool water to drink (add 1/2 tsp of salt to a glass of water). Give as much as the casualty will take.
  • Watch breathing.
  • Place the unconscious casualty in the recovery position.

Shivering, slurred speech, stumbling and drowsiness after exposure to cold are indications of hypothermia. Condition is severe when shivering stops. Unconsciousness and stopped breathing may follow.

  • Remove gently to shelter. Movement or rough handling can upset heart rhythm.
  • Remove wet clothing; wrap in warm covers.
  • Warm neck, chest, abdomen and groin - but not the extremities. Apply direct body heat by huddling with the person in a sleeping bag.
  • Give warm, sweet drinks if conscious.
  • Monitor breathing; give artificial respiration if needed.
Leeches and Ticks

Once a leech has taken hold, any attempt to dislodge it by force does more harm than good. Apply a lighted match, burning cigarette, common salt, a drop of kerosene or turpentine to its back - it will release its hold and drop off.

For an embedded tick, grasp as close to the skin as possible, using covered fingers or tweezers and pull the tick away with even, steady pressure until it is dislodged. Keep the dislodged tick for later identification. In both cases, cleanse the area with rubbing alcohol. Relieve irritation with bicarbonate of soda or a weak solution of ammonia. Apply a dry dressing.


Signs and symptoms may be immediate or delayed. Cold, clammy skin; anxiety; nausea; vomiting; thirst and fainting are signs and symptoms of shock.

  • The best treatment for shock is proper care of the injury that caused it.
  • Ensure an open airway and give artificial respiration if necessary.
  • Control severe bleeding if present.
  • Cover to prevent loss of body heat.
  • Place the casualty on his back with his head low and the lower extremities raised 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 inches) unless he has a head chest or abdominal injury.
  • Unconscious casualties, or those who show signs of vomiting, should be put into the recovery position.

Loss of consciousness may threaten life if the person is on his back and the tongue has dropped to the back of the throat, blocking the airway.

Make certain that the person is breathing before looking for the cause of unconsciousness.

If the injuries permit, place the casualty in the recovery position with the neck extended and keep the person warm. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious casualty.