By Stan French
At 12:53 p.m. on Saturday, Nov 19, 2011, a woman contacted 911 reporting that her friend, a 23-year-old woman from Toronto, had phoned from a cell phone and told her that she was lost somewhere north of Duchesnay Falls, in the area of North Bay. She had left Duchesnay Falls at 8:00 a.m. for a walk dressed in light clothing.
North Bay Police Service (NBPS) dispatched a total of nine officers for a ground search of the area and contacted the woman on her cell phone that was quickly losing power.
An ATV unit was requested from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and a Canine unit was also made available.
North Bay Air Search and Rescue (BAYSAR) was notified of the situation at 1:30 p.m. and the NBPS made a request for assistance. Tom Wilson of BAYSAR advised that they could accept the mission and that they would have a plane in the air ASAP.
The BAYSAR crew was comprised of Stan French (pilot, COPA Flight 23 member), Tom Wilson (Navigator, COPA member), and Emil Jansen as the spotter. The aircraft used was a privately owned Cessna 172.
The crew met at BAYSAR HQ and had a pre-flight briefing with a member of the North Bay Police Service at 2 p.m. The briefing included the coordination of air and ground search crews. Direct communication was maintained throughout the search and rescue.
The NBPS equipped Emil Jansen, the spotter, with a police radio and as a backup the NBPS was provided an aviation VHF radio.
Take-off of the BAYSAR flight was at 2:27 p.m. (less than an hour after the call from NBPS) and thanks to the short transit time, the crew was on search within five minutes.
At 2:42 p.m. the BAYSAR aircraft located the woman and officers were guided to her by the BAYSAR spotter. At 3:10 p.m.
the officers on the ground reached the woman and she was escorted through the bush and back to safety. She was uninjured and in good health.
During the time that the woman was being escorted out of the bush an OPP helicopter arrived in case further assistance was required.
A representative of the North Bay Police Service stated, “This was an example of a co-operative quick response by two police services and a volunteer organization that resulted in the successful conclusion to a potentially bad situation.”
On Jan. 13, 2012, Chief Paul Cook had the opportunity to meet with the BAYSAR crew to officially thank BAYSAR for their assistance in this extraordinarily rapid and coordinated response.
BAYSAR is a non-profit, volunteer organization that has helped serve the North Bay area’s SAR needs for more than 20 years.