POLITICS

Unusual for all choppers to be grounded, military says

07/09/2012 09:21 EDT | Updated 09/08/2012 05:12 EDT
It's a rare occurrence for all three Cormorant helicopters at 9 Wing Gander to be out of service at the same time, says the commanding officer for the search and rescue squadron.

That rare occurrence happened last week, however.

Provincial officials opted to call in a Cougar helicopter to airlift an injured man who fell down a ravine in Grand Falls-Windsor rather than wait for a military chopper from Nova Scotia.

The situation resulted in renewed questions about search and rescue services in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Maj. Clint Mowbray says if there had been an emergency at sea, search and rescue would have tapped into other resources.

"The potential is always there," Mowbray said.

"There's a number of variables that are out of our control. Aircraft breaking on us inadvertently is one of them, weather is another. But the important thing to keep in mind is that we're not the only game in town."

He says the military can always call on the Canadian Coast Guard and its auxiliary vessels.

The joint rescue co-ordination centre in Halifax also has aircraft available, according to Mowbray.