CAF Story: How MCpl Rowan Rescued a Fallen Climber

There were two French climbers that were up ski-touring one of the glaciers of the northern tip of Baffin Island. A gentleman fell seventy feet into a crevasse. His girlfriend had a Sat phone, was able to call for help. We searched for them, found them. Had to rig a mountain system on the glacier to send a guy into the crevasse, pull him out. Get them both to safety. He had some minor injuries: knee, shoulder, ribs, that kind of thing. There was really no one else that could have done that rescue, so it was really nice to be able to be there, to use all those skills and then bring someone home safe.

Hi, my name is Master Corporal Geoff Rowan. I’m a search and rescue technician here at 417 Squadron, Cold Lake. The job comes with its risks and its benefits, right. So when we get to go do those rescues, you have the satisfaction of bringing that person home to their family, their friends, their loved ones. And that’s an incredible feeling. We’re ready to go out there and potentially put our lives on the line to bring someone home. But we are trained enough to be able to make good decisions, mitigate risks in circumstances, so that ultimately, hopefully, that doesn’t happen.

We go through a lot together through selection and a year of training. And then we work in teams of twos, so you get to know everyone really well. So everyday you come to work, it’s like working with your best friend. If I take a step back years ago, when I was kind of in the height of my rock climbing as a hobby, looking to do it as a career, I wanted to look into mountain search and rescue, and SAR tech was a job that came up. At that time, I wasn’t committed or ready to join the military, so I find it quite ironic now that here I am twenty years later doing the job I looked into in the military I thought I would never join. And pretty much doing the best job on the planet. So, yeah I don’t think I’d be anywhere else.