Skip to comments.Graham defends rescue response time in Snowbird crash
Posted on 12/14/2004 5:31:23 AM PST by Clive
OTTAWA (CP) - The lack of standby rescue helicopters at CFB Moose Jaw was not a factor in the fate of two Snowbird pilots after their planes crashed on Friday, says Defence Minister Bill Graham.
There is "sophisticated road access" around Moose Jaw, Sask., which allows ground vehicles to handle search and rescue operations for one of Canada's busiest air force training grounds, Graham said Monday. Graham was reacting to reports that it took 47 minutes for a truck to reach the crash site after two Canadian Forces Snowbirds collided in the air Friday.
Capt. Miles Selby of Delta, B.C., died in the accident while fellow pilot Capt. Chuck Mallett bailed out and escaped relatively unscathed.
Dave Batters, the Conservative MP over whose riding the planes collided, said there used be three helicopters on standby at CFB Moose Jaw, but they were chopped in the mid-1990s to save money.
"Why is the Liberal government placing the lives of Canadian airmen at risk just to save a few bucks?" Batters asked during question period in the House of Commons.
Outside the Commons, Graham defended the decision.
He said search and rescue choppers remain on hand at military bases in Bagotville, Que., and Cold Lake, Alta., "because these are remote places with little road access.
"But around Moose Jaw there's very sophisticated road access and the major in charge of the Snowbirds said he was very pleased with the response time - that they got there and (15 Wing) acted and responded very quickly."
Selby and Mallett were practising a head-on loop manoeuvre in clear skies when they collided near Mossbank, about 64 kilometres south of Moose Jaw.
The impact spread debris over a two-kilometre strip of open, rolling prairie.
Mallett was picked up by a local civilian ambulance company, which dispatched paramedics as soon as an eyewitness called in the accident.
Alice Wald, who operates the ambulance company, said her vehicle was about 30 kilometres closer to the crash site than Defence staff travelling from Moose Jaw.
"We're closer," Wald said. "I believe they were there in 18 minutes."
At 15 Wing Moose Jaw, a spokeswoman for the Snowbirds said everything went smoothly with the search and rescue.
"As for how much time it should take or what equipment they should have ... I can't really comment on a tactical level about those decisions," said Capt. Stephanie Walker.
In Ottawa, Batters said that in heavy snow or deep mud, speedy ground access to many areas of his riding could be nearly impossible.
"In Saskatchewan, you never know what the weather's going to be like. After a heavy snowfall, it's quite possible that rescue teams would not be able to get to a downed pilot forthwith."
Graham said the military has studied the issue "and were content that this is the way in which they could get access in the case of an injury."
In case of bad weather, said the minister, there are other search and rescue options.
"It's not restricted exclusively to (military) bases," said Graham.
"We have a network of search and rescue aircraft all across Canada for aviation and other accidents, where we put out helicopters, we put out Hercules, et cetera, immediately on somebody going down."
But MP Gordon O'Connor, a retired general and the Conservative defence critic, called the decision to get rid of base helicopters "short-sighted."
"This base has one of the highest flying rates and it has a lot of new pilots," O'Connor said of 15 Wing.
"You would think the odds are new pilots may have more problems than more experienced pilots.
"To me, in peace time, safety takes precedence over operational training."
A 14-member flight safety investigation team continued to mark pieces of the wreckage and search for clues Monday.
Capt. Jim Hutcheson, spokesman for the team, said a doctor was also on hand to examine the physical state of the pilots and the physiological effects flying would have on them.
Hutcheson said it was important to mark the debris using global positioning system technology before snow falls.
Choppers are not just needed in remote areas.
There is a "sophisticated road access" around Toronto as well, yet we have civilian choppers on standby at Toronto and military choppers on standby at Trenton.
And there are chopper pads on top of downtown St. Michael's Hospital and Sick Children's Hospital as well as at suburban and exurban hospitals.
And we never know what the weather is going to be like here as well.
It's not just getting to the scene. Some trauma requires a fast trauma flight to be called even if there is an ambulance and paramedics at the scene
Moose Jaw is a city and a military base. A rescue chopper could serve both.
BTW: The pilot who was injured got help by calling 911 on his cell phone and a civilian ambulance responded.
In this case, the response time was not a factor in the death of the one pilot or the survival of the other. That says nothing about whether there ought to have beem a chopper on standby.
It's my understanding that from the time of collision to the time that help arrived, 47 minutes transpired. This is unacceptable. Were they not being tracked by air traffic control? Wouldn't the controller have seen there signal disappear? Graham's an ass.
They would have been in an exercise area and as they were exercising for air shows they would have been performing at low altitude.
But a snowbird team is a nine aircraft formation and the leader of the formation would have been in contact with Moose Jaw.
The practice would be for an aircraft to remain over the crash site until rescue could establish its location and start to respond, Possibly, fuel permitting, an aircraft would have remained until a chopper arrived.
But then I am an old fart and things might have changed over the years.
Graham is a retard, a typical Liberal lackey. Can't afford rescue helicopters or decent subs for our armed forces but can waste billions of our money on useless programs. When are we Canadians going to wake up and get rid of these guys?
The next time Canadian soldiers are sent into some godforsaken, malaria-infested Third World hellhole for peacekeeping, the liberal govt bastards may issue them nightsticks instead of assault rifles, grenades, and machine guns.
As a cost-cutting measure, you see.
We come in peace. </barf>
And the Lord Strathcona Horse and their Coyote recce vehicles were much appreciated by the Brits with whom they were deployed in Kosovo and the Yanks in Afghanistan.
But it would be nice if they were to be deployed with camo that is relevant to the terrain in which they will be operating.
And the frigates are OK, except that they have to embark superannuated Sea King choppers and the new ones will not start to embark for another 4 years, after Sikorsky redesigns the chosen chopper and refits the frigates' chopper pads for the new birds.
We nickel and dime our military to death but occasionally we do something right.
And our people serve professionally and well in spite of the politicians.
But it has ever been thus. My grandfather was gassed at Vimy. He told me about the Ross rifle that was issued to the Canadians. It was a wonderful hunting rifle but totally unsuited to combat operations and it was ditched by the Canadians as soon as they could lay their hands on British Lee Enfield rifles. The purchase of the Ross was the old boy network looking after its own instead of the soldiers.
Then there were the Canadian new construction corvettes that were sent to sea with telephone poles where the guns ough to be until a Brit dockyard could equip them with guns.
We don't really deserve out soldiers.
Looked on a map and didn't see Bagotville ... curious, where is it located in the province of Quebec?
It's top secret. If Quebec separates, they're going to keep them. ; )
Thank you for your replies.
Clive, there is a good book out there called "Misfire." This website (Amazon) gives a pretty good description of it.
"Military historian Hallahan describes how, from the Revolutionary War to the present, the U.S. Army has resisted adopting appropriate and much-needed small arms. This unhappy situation is typified in his account of President Lincoln's struggle to introduce the breech-loading rifle into the Union Army despite the obstructionist tactics of his powerful chief of ordnance. The most interesting chapters deal with three armorers of genius and their campaigns to convince the Army to adopt their inventions: Hiram Maxim and his mechanically operated machine gun, John Browning and his gas-operated small arms and John Garand and his semiautomatic M1 rifle (which General Patton called the greatest battle implement ever devised)"
I continue to hope and pray that time will bring better leadership to you folks in Canada. You folks have a great country with a loser government!
Next war, the lieutenants and captains will fight this one.
Although I must say that the US Marines have some lessons in house cleaning to teach every staff college for the next generation. Fallujah overturned centuries of truisms about invading cities, going back to Sun Tzu
But as to this quote:
" Hiram Maxim and his mechanically operated machine gun, John Browning and his gas-operated small arms and John Garand and his semiautomatic M1 rifle (which General Patton called the greatest battle implement ever devised)"
The Garand is an excellent weapon for target shooting and hunting, but for infantry usem given the choice between the M1 and the Lee Enfield No. 4 Mark 1 Star, my choice would be the Lee Enfield.
Infantry weapons get dragged around the world and tossed into trucks and aircraft by young men in a hurry and exposed to mud, sand and dust, and they are still expected to do their job when called upon to do so.