By TRACEY ROXBURGH
Bomber by name, the bomb by nature.
NZSki ski patroller Brad Saville and his not-quite-two-year-old curly-coated retriever,
Bomber, have just become Queenstown’s only operational avalanche search and rescue team.
Saville, 39, took Bomber to the closed Mt Hutt skifield on Monday to be put through his
paces, intending to come out as a novice team, meaning they could go into an avalanche search in-bounds of the ski area they work at — in their case, Coronet Peak and The Remarks.
But Bomber was so impressive — finding his buried live subject in the 3000 square metre search area in just 58 seconds — he was asked to be assessed for operational standard.
During that assessment he had to find an article — a backpack — buried within a similar search perimeter, and two live subjects.
He was three-quarters of the way through, having found the backpack and his first human,
when ‘‘we heard a really loud crack’’.
‘‘It was almost like a shotgun had gone off.
‘‘It was a big loud boom and I looked up and could see this big rockfall — several hundred
metres above us, but we were in the fall line of it.’’
Assessors called Saville and told him to recall Bomber and ‘‘get out of there’’.
‘‘It was pretty nuts.’’
Fortunately, the rockfall subsided without incident.
Once the site was cleared, Bomber carried on with his search, finding his second human
without any issues.
Saville says he’s ‘‘super-stoked’’ and ‘‘so proud’’.
‘‘It’s a massive achievement and I know we’ve worked pretty long and hard over the last year-and-a-half.
‘‘This is a major relief.’’
They join two teams at Cardrona and four dogs and three handlers at Treble Cone who are
all operational, able to be called into any avalanche emergency in the region, or New Zealand.
Saville: ‘‘His ability to find even one person in a big search area, he would crush it.’’