Party, auction to send extrication team to international finals By Lawrence Geller Virtually every time we travel Highway 99 we see people driving dangerously. A world class resort, with the number of tourists and weekenders who come to Whistler every year, substantially increases the probability of emergency situations, the type that the Extrication Team is trained to solve. Every week or two we hear or read of another serious accident or fire. Any one of these could result in people being trapped, with no means of escape. Such a situation is probably among our worst fears. Having a team ready to react, on a moment's notice, means they must constantly practise their art. What does the Western Canadian gold-medal-winning auto extrication team do for continuing education? They go to the international competition to see how other gold medal teams from around the world perform rescues. Fortunately for the Whistler team of Geoff Playfair, Chris Nelson, Craig McDonald, Sheila Kirkwood and Joe Thibodeau they have qualified for this year's internationals in Burlington, Ont. and are now in a position to see how better funded teams from large fire departments act in emergency situations. Nelson says that each time they attend a competition they bring back techniques to Whistler that help to make their rescue procedures more effective and efficient, and this will directly translate to saving lives. This, more than any other, is the reason that the team competes. While it is nice to be thought of as the best in the west, or as one of the best in the world, the end result is that Whistler is a better place to survive the unforeseen. Last year's competition resulted in not only better techniques being learned, but also some new equipment coming to the valley. The Dutch team had some plastic shields which are used to protect people trapped behind glass or metal from the inevitable flying debris which occurs in a rescue. Some of these shields came back from the competition with the Whistler team. If they hadn't competed they wouldn't have learned about, much less obtained, the shields. Now we have another protective device, which few other communities have, and which will certainly make a difference to people every time they are needed. Financing their attendance at a competition is an ongoing challenge for the Whistler team. They have already washed cars and sold hot dogs. On Sept. 2 they will have a barbecue and party at the main firehall, co-sponsored by Dave Evans of TD Evergreen Financial Service, the Whistler branch of the TD Bank and by Lawrence and Lucetta Geller. To raise the $6,000 that the team needs to attend the international finals a silent auction will be held. During the week of Aug. 25-Sept. 1 Whistler Cable 6 will advertise the items available in the Silent Auction and bids can be made by phone. On Sept. 2, the day of the party, bids may only be made in person at the fire hall. Among the items available are meals in some of Whistler's best hotels and restaurants, an ATV tour, a gourmet basket, Pod's racing skis, Canucks tickets, golfing at Big Sky, a $700 compound mitre saw, a mountain bike tour, a soapstone carving, a compass and a two-year subscription to Pique Newsmagazine. Tickets for the party are available in advance, for $10 each, from any fire fighter, or call 932-2020.