News Local

Rescue team jumps into joint exercise

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

Master Cpl. Nic Meunier was plucked out of the icy waters of Lake Simcoe yesterday afternoon.

He wasn't injured. In fact, he was full of life.

Meunier is part of the Canadian Force's 424 Search and Rescue/Transport Squadron out of CFB Trenton. Members of the squad were taking part in joint marine exercises -- called Tigerex 2009 -- with Barrie police yesterday.

Jumping out of a helicopter is nothing new for Meunier, who has been with 424 for four years and likes to parachute, rock climb and scuba dive in his spare time.

"They pay me to do my hobbies and save people. The big thing is being able to save people," he said, after catching a ride back to the Barrie Marina in the Barrie police 27-foot Stanley aluminum boat. "What better could you expect from a job? It's more of a lifestyle."

During the second practice scenario yesterday, Meunier was transported down a line from the Griffon CH-146 helicopter onto the police boat. Just minutes earlier, the line had previously been brought to the police boat by Master Cpl. Danny Dicerni, who was dangling from the chopper while it and the police boat were zipping along the water at about eight knots.

"You really get to know how skilled these pilots are," said Barrie police Const. John Parliament, who was taking part in the exercises.

"It was very exciting. It's really not a large boat to drop a body onto. They were close enough that their skid was hitting our antennae," he said.

"The helicopter looked very large when it's that close to the vessel. There is no room for error. They are right there," Parliament said. "They said later it was great practice to do on a smaller boat."

Master Warrant Officer Eric Larouche said pilots are trained to work in such close quarters.

"Helicopter rescues can lower you into the site a lot quicker and a lot more efficiently. It lets you extract people faster," he said, adding the squadron contacted Barrie police about the joint exercises.

"These are good rescue techniques to practise with different government agencies. We have to be able to work with all of them," he said.

The joint exercise will continue this week.

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