Summit County rescuers evacuate injured hiker from Peak One |

Summit County rescuers evacuate injured hiker from Peak One

A Flight For Life helicopter circled around the vicinity of the ravine where the hiker fell, before dropping off rescuers as close to the site as possible.
Jonathan Bowers / |

Following an extensive rescue mission, a young hiker was airlifted from a ravine near the east slope of Peak 1 on Thursday. Around 10 a.m., Summit County Search and Rescue (SAR) received a call about a juvenile hiker who had taken an extensive fall while hiking, sustaining serious injuries.

A Flight For Life helicopter circled around the area before landing a distance away, bringing in rescuers to help the juvenile. Unable to land any closer, SAR recruited the help of the High Altitude Army Aviation Training Site (HAATS) in Gypsum, bringing in a Black Hawk helicopter with Vail rescuers on board to help lift the child directly out of the ravine.

“We got the patient up using a long line into the helicopter because there was no place to land,” said Charles Pittman, spokesman for Summit County Search and Rescue. “We attached a litter and hauled the line and the litter up into the helicopter.”

He added that without the air evacuation, the rescue could have lasted well until midnight.

“A person can go downhill in that amount of time,” Pittman added, referring to the boy’s health. “I’m not sure how many people understand what Flight For Life does in getting rescuers close to a patient or getting responders closer to an avalanche field. … (I)t’s a whole other side of what Flight For Life does.”

The boy, who received treatment at Summit Medical Center, was hiking with a group of friends at the time of the incident. SAR confirmed that he is from Colorado.

Summit County’s SAR team, comprised entirely of volunteers, has nine mission coordinators that work one week at a time. When a call for help comes in, 911 dispatch will contact the on-call coordinator, letting them decide how to best respond. Then, the coordinator will contact members of the SAR team by radio or text to help find and evacuate injured or lost hikers.

“As far as rescues go, it varies year-to-year,” Pittman said. “This year, it started off very slow in the winter, but, it’s picked up a lot this summer … there are a lot of people going into the backcountry. The number of calls has definitely increased.”

He said that many of the calls are from lost hikers or people who have gotten their vehicles stuck on four-wheel drive roads. Helicopters are generally used to respond when a patient is critically-ill or injured enough that getting rescuers to the patient would take too long given the patient’s condition.

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