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Dispatcher lauded for rescue coordination

"Ability to multi-task is something rarely seen"



A police dispatcher was honoured this week for keeping her cool during a dramatic helicopter rescue last year of a Whistler man who fell through ice in Green Lake.

Caroline Dyck, 32, took the calls at E-Comm, the emergency communications centre for southwestern B.C., when kite surfer Juerg Humble, 64, broke through thin ice March 5, 2005.

"Caroline was absolutely phenomenal in her ability to get me what I needed to assist in the rescue efforts," said Cpl. Paul Vadik of Pemberton RCMP, who was first on the scene.

"Caroline’s ability to multi-task is something rarely seen," Vadik added. "In my opinion she was the quarterback in the rescue effort."

Dyck coordinated rescue efforts, making calls to Whistler Fire and Rescue, B.C. Ambulance and Search and Rescue. The Surrey resident said she worked on autopilot during the fast-moving rescue which saw Humble ultimately lifted from the frigid waters by Blackcomb Helicopter pilot Steve Flynn and two other rescuers.

"We figured fire department and search and rescue would be called so we had those numbers on standby and the minute the corporal called asking for those things we were able to make those calls quickly for him," Dyck said in a telephone interview from the Vancouver E-Comm centre. "The helicopter was something we had in the back of our minds and we were getting that prepped too just in case it was requested, and it was."

Rescuers that day were anxious after attempts to rescue Humble with an ice sled and inflatable Zodiac boat failed. Humble, holding on to his sail, was becoming disoriented when helicopter pilot Steve Flynn happened to be passing by the scene in his car. Flynn quickly hurried to Blackcomb Helicopters’ hangar, picking up ski patroller Paul Skelton and Whistler SAR member Binty Massey. Using a precision hover and one of the helicopter’s skids to break apart the ice, the team was able to pull Humble from the lake.

Throughout the rescue Dyck stayed in contact with shore rescue teams.

"The members were quite excited and kept continually giving us updates," Dyck said. "You could tell the awe in their voice about what was going on out there."

She said the events of the rescue didn’t hit home until later that day.

"It really didn’t sink in until we saw the news later on in the evening, seeing actual footage of the helicopter and the crew removing the gentleman from the lake and how far he really was from shore."

Dyck was nominated by her manager for the Operations Communication Centre Award of Excellence for her part in coordinating rescue efforts and presented with the award this week.

Pemberton’s Cpl. Vadik said he hopes to see helicopter pilot Flynn, along with Skelton and Massey, nominated for a Governor-General’s award for bravery.