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Central Newfoundland town gets a Snowbulance for backcountry rescues

A stock photo of the Snowbulance unit purchased for the Bonavista North region. CONTRBUTED
A stock photo of the Snowbulance unit purchased for the Bonavista North region. CONTRBUTED

NEW-WES-VALLEY, N.L. — The municipality of New-Wes-Valley, Bonavista Bay, has a new tool to aid emergency rescues on snow-covered ground.

Thanks to a very successful fundraising drive, the town has purchased a Snowbulance rescue sled, an enclosed trailer, and an all-terrain vehicle with tracks to tow the sled.

Lorne Welcher, chair of the fundraising committee, said the decision to acquire the equipment came about after a Christmas-time accident in the region's backcountry.

Emergency personnel were responding to a call from a cabin in the area when the terrain and weather became a problem.

He said responders were forced to stop their vehicles a distance away from the cabin and take snowmobiles the rest of the way. After reaching the cabin, the person in distress had to be towed from the cabin using a toboggan.

After the incident, emergency personnel, municipal officials and others in the region got together to talk about solutions.

They decided to begin fundraising to buy a rescue sled that could be towed in the winter by snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.

"We want to be prepared for that next call," said Welcher.

Word got out quickly and even before the committee held its first formal meeting, they already had donations of about $2,900 from local citizens.

Before long, towns, organizations and businesses from around the Gander Bay loop were pitching in to the cause. Quickly the amount ballooned to over $52,000.

The town was able to purchase the sled, an automated external defibrillator, and an all-terrain vehicle to tow it.

The equipment is being stored at the fire department in New-Wes-Valley.

But it’s not just for the immediate area, said Welcher.

Known as the Bonavista North Remote Rescue Unit, it will serve people from Lockers Bay to Deadman's Bay. It will also be available to communities outside the region if requested.

“It is an amazing aspect of communities helping everybody,” said New-Wes-Valley Mayor Ken Hoyles. “It is a great coming together.”

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