By Peter Moon
A Canadian Ranger who used a rope to drag his boat through dangerous breaking up river ice when his hunting partner became incapacitated by stomach pain has been called “the hero of the day” for his lifesaving efforts.
Peter Jacob, a corporal with the Webequie Canadian Ranger patrol, was returning from a duck hunting trip with a friend when their boat got stuck in breaking ice on the Winisk River.
Webequie is an isolated fly-in Ojibway First Nation 540 kilometers north of Thunder Bay.
“His friend had a sudden serious medical problem,” said Sergeant Roland Shewaybick, the Ranger patrol commander. “It was a major stomach pain and he was unable to walk on his own. The ice blocked them and their boat needed to be manhandled through the moving ice.
“Peter (phoned) his friend’s parents to tell them they were stuck about five kilometers from the community.”
A rescue helicopter was asked to fly to Webequie. “I was told the helicopter would take two hours and we had to wait for it,” said Corporal Jacob. “I tried to calm (my friend) down but he was in a lot of pain and he was getting very anxious.”
When it was learned the helicopter was unable to fly to Webequie the local Rangers prepared to mount a rescue by boat.
Meanwhile Corporal Jacob began using a rope to haul his boat through the broken ice towards Webequie. He was forced to step from one section of ice to another to pull the boat.
He had hauled the boat for more than an hour “and I was getting tired when I saw help coming,” he said. His brother, Eric Jacob, was a passenger in a boat that had been on a hunting trip. He joined his brother in pulling the boat and the stricken friend. A second boatload of hunters arrived shortly afterwards and added more help in hauling the boat.
A Ranger search boat was about to leave Webequie when the Rangers saw the three boats approaching the community over a section of ice-free water.
Corporal Jacob’s hunting partner was examined at the community health clinic and released to recuperate at home.
The Ranger corporal’s lifesaving efforts were lauded in the community.
“He was just exhausted when he got back,” said Sergeant Shewaybick. “He’s a big hero for what he did. He says he was just happy to be able to help. But he was the hero of the day. He did a good job.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol
Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)