Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Heroes among us

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 09/05) - There are times when lifesaving skills are never put into use. For six children learning to paddle kayaks last summer, their rescue skills were learned just in time to help save two lives.

The Background...

Todd Burlingame, Christa Domchek and Paul Falvo: On July 20, 2004, a cry from the waters of Yellowknife Bay was investigated by Christa Domchek and Paul Falvo. Upon discovering an overturned canoe with three teens in the water. A distress call was put out and answered by Todd Burlingame, who also helped with the rescue.

Leah Feil, Kayley Allin, Kenny MacKay, Devon Allooloo, Ishai Forget-Manson, Hannah and Angus Wilson and Nicole Henkel: On July 26, 2004, while practising rescues as part of the Northern and Remote Wilderness Adventures Kids Paddle camp for Narwhal Adventures, this team of eight persons saw a real-life drama unfold. Two people were seen in Back Bay - a father and son near their overturned canoe. The team paddled out to the pair and pulled them to safety, after just learning the rescue techniques necessary for the mission.

Edward Jumbo: On Aug.2, 2004 two men were fishing on Trout Lake. Windy conditions caused the boat to overturn, throwing the men into the icy water. Edward Jumbo, upon seeing the boat from afar, decided to investigate. He pulled both men into his boat, ultimately saving their lives.

The six children and the two instructors who performed a dramatic rescue on Back Bay in July 2004 were honoured recently with commendations from the Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada. They were among 11 people recognized during the ceremony.

Leah Feil, Kayley Allin, Kenny MacKay, Devon Allooloo, Ishai Forget - Manson, Hannah and Angus Wilson and Nicole Henkel had been trained in lifesaving skills just days earlier when they and their kayaking instructors, Kayley Allin and Kenny MacKay, paddled to the rescue of a father and son whose canoe overturned in Back Bay.

Allin and Kenny MacKay, with Narwhal Adventure Training, said the children were taught the skills in a swimming pool.

"They were so great," said Allin. "They were calm and collected and we saw them put everything they learned the day before into action,"

MacKay said it was good to see the children successfully use what they learned in a real-life situation.

"It was good to see them in action," he said.

Hannah Wilson, 12, remembers the incident in detail.

"We saw they were caught and we helped them," she said. "It seems like the training actually pays off."

NWT Commissioner Tony Whitford congratulated the recipients during a formal ceremony held at the Legislative Assembly.

He was also awarded a patron chain of office medal for accepting the role of vice patron of the Lifesaving Society for the Alberta/NWT branch.

"We like to see them recognized for their quick thinking and cool manner in dealing with what could have been a tragedy out there," Whitford said.

"There have been 18 drowning deaths in the North in the past five years."

Also recognized with an award were Todd Burlingame, Christa Domchek and Paul Falvo for another rescue incident which occurred on Yellowknife Bay in July 2004. None of the three attended the ceremony.

In that incident, Domchek and Falvo heard a cry and discovered an overturned canoe with three boys in the water.

The pair sent out a distress call, which Burlingame answered.

Early in the new year, Edward Jumbo will be given an award for a rescue of two fishermen he performed on Trout Lake.