Monday, June 15, 2009
High Mountain Heli-Rescue
After taking a month off for a foot injury, I'm back at it hiking in the Wasatch Mountains. Three weeks in a walker boot, and one week in stiff soled shoes. The impetus to get at it again came about yesterday. I was volunteering for a local race called the "Wahsatch Steeplechase"--17.5 miles in the mountains just north of Salt Lake City. Towards the end of the race (there were only about a dozen racers still out on the course), we got a radio call that a man had been injured just above the previous aid station, near the "crags". This section of the race is tough-going over rocks and brush, and apparently he had fallen and heard a "snap" come from his knee.
There were several EMT's at the nearest aid station, Smuggler's Gap, and they managed to help the guy down to their aid station where they could get him settled down. After a quick evaluation, it was determined that he was going into early shock, and would not be able to hike down without considerable assistance, and potential further injury to himself or others. AirMed helicopter was dispatched to the scene, and I along with another EMT-volunteer decided to walk up the 3 mile section of trail (3,000 ft elevation gain, and quite slippery). We arrived at the scene just as AirMed had landed on the ridge.
The only landing zone that the helicopter could find was a further 300 yards up the ridge, with a rough trail. The patient was packaged up on a litter, given pain medication, and the 10 of us got to work. It took us almost an hour to carry this 250 pound, fifty year-old man up to the helicopter where he was flown to a local trauma center.
So, needless to say, my foot (which was either stress-fractured or had tendonitis from much running and hiking early this spring) is feeling much better. Experience of a lifetime yesterday. Definitely one for the books. The beer and pizza provided by the race director sure tasted good after all of our hard work!