Colorado hiker rescued after fall off Mt. Royal in Frisco
October 21, 2014
Imagine paramedics in the back of a speeding ambulance, frantically working to keep a patient alive. Inside that relatively controlled environment, they're pumping oxygen, administering an IV and checking vital signs.
Now picture that kind of life-saving intervention playing out on the steepest of mountain trails over a stretch of four hours.
That was the situation more than two-dozen members of the Summit County Rescue Group found themselves in at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
A 65-year-old hiker had accidentally fallen from the top of Mount Royal, landing on a pile of rocks 15 to 20 feet below and suffering life-threatening injuries. Because a Flight for Life helicopter was unable to find a spot to land, rescuers had to stabilize the man on a wheeled litter, a kind of heavy-duty gurney designed for tough terrain, and slowly roll him down the precipitous, 1,500-foot drop to the trailhead below.
“The patient was in critical need of hospital-level treatment, but with the lack of a landing zone for the helicopter we knew that we would need to move the patient by manpower only. The challenge was how to conduct a quick but safe process over very difficult terrain, all the while the patient was being attended to by the paramedic.”
Spokesman, Summit County Rescue Group
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Six rescuers surrounded the litter — two on each side, one in back and another in front — as it made its way down the trail. Additional rescuers secured a rope to the apparatus to slow the descent even more.
Charles Pitman, spokesman for the rescue group, said the transport was made more difficult because the hiker required "continuous advanced life support" because of the extent of his injuries. (Because of medical privacy laws, Pitman could not specify the name of the hiker or the types of injuries he sustained.)
"This was a particularly challenging mission for the rescuers," Pitman said in a written statement. "The patient was in critical need of hospital-level treatment, but with the lack of a landing zone for the helicopter we knew that we would need to move the patient by manpower only. The challenge was how to conduct a quick but safe process over very difficult terrain, all the while the patient was being attended to by the paramedic."
More than four hours after first responding to the call, rescuers finally reached the bike path, Pitman said. An ambulance then transported the hiker to Zach's Stop, near the Peak One neighborhood, where a Flight for Life helicopter was waiting. The man was taken to St. Anthony Hospital in Denver.
The 65-year-old hiker is a Coloradan, but not a Summit County resident, Pitman said. The man was hiking with another person when he fell. However, that person was not injured in the incident.
With more than 70 calls for assistance, Pitman said that 2014 has been a challenging year for the rescue group. Even during Sunday's rescue on Mount Royal, the group took a call from three lost hikers in the Mesa Cortina area. A rescuer was able to talk them back on to the trail without an in-the-field response.
"Although the 'shoulder seasons' tend, on average, to be less active for the search and rescue group, last night's rescue reinforces for us that critical missions can be just around the corner at any time of the year," Pitman said.
The Summit County Rescue Group is an all-volunteer, nonprofit group. In 2013, the group spent more than 2,500 hours in responding to calls, and more than 3,700 hours in training. The group does not charge for their services. Instead, it depends on grants and donations. For more information visit the its website, http://www.scrg.org.
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