Tom Meland looks very relaxed as he gets extricated from Triple Decker Falls trail after injuring his knee. Also in the photo are (l-r) BC Ambulance’s Bill Haring and Rowena Muglich and Julie Campbell of Wells Gray Search and Rescue.

Search and Rescue extricates injured hiker

Dislocated kneecap leaves well-known Clearwater hiker waiting to be rescued

Sometimes even the rescuers need to be rescued.

Tom Meland, the former manager of Clearwater Bible Camp, had a mishap on Thursday morning when he dislocated his kneecap.

Meland has worked part-time with the local ambulance crews and is well known among the area’s hiking fraternity.

The incident occurred while hiking the Triple Decker Falls trail north of Clearwater.

“It was wonderful,” he said of the experience. “The people who came to get me were all people I knew. I was very thankful for their professionalism and good cheer.”

Triple Decker Falls trail is located about 4.3 km north of Wells Gray Infocentre next to Clearwater Valley Road.

Meland was by himself but had his cellphone with him.

The route is quite steep and slippery in places with loose dirt.

Suddenly the hiker’s kneecap dislocated and he fell heavily.

“I just put some weight on it and it snapped and crackled,” he recalled. “There was an audible noise.”

He has never had a similar problem with his knees before, he said.

“Praise to God I had my cellphone with me. I called my wife to let her know what was going on and then called 911.”

Crews from BC Ambulance and then Wells Gray Search and Rescue arrived to extricate him.

The search and rescue volunteers rigged up a stretcher with a large tire underneath to move him.

Ropes were rigged to pull the stretcher up the steep trail, while SAR members walked alongside to keep the stretcher upright.

Meland often works with a group of volunteers who work to keep local hiking trails open. He wasn’t trail clearing this trip, however, as they have suspended operations due to the forest fire danger.

Paradoxically, one of the SAR volunteers had to use a chainsaw to remove some fallen trees that were blocking the trail.

Once up to the road he was transferred into an ambulance and then taken to Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital.

The whole procedure from when he fell until his arrival at the hospital took about two hours.

“I have to thank all three teams: search and rescue, BC Ambulance and the staff at the hospital for their help,” he said.


Wells Gray Search and Rescue volunteers Sharon Dhillon (l) and Rowena Muglich prepare to evacuate. Note the large wheel attached underneath the stretcher.

Tom Meland shows the cellphone he used to call for help after dislocating his kneecap on the Triple Decker Falls trail on Thursday morning.

BC Parks staff, Wells Gray Search and Rescue volunteers and BC Ambulance personnel line up following a successful rescue.