Thursday, May 10, 2012

Weather makes Back Country Medics rescue a challenge

Back Country Medics flew by Hillcrest Aviation Co. helicopter to Warren Friday to assist a cardiac patient. However, they found no one there and needed to track him down. Photo by Mike Norton, Back Country Medics 

Weather including low clouds, rain, snow and fog made a Back Country Medics flight to assist a cardiac patient in Warren a challenge Friday. 

Ronald W. Drake, 71, Warren, was experiencing cardiac issues when Back Country Medics was called in by Idaho County Sheriff’s Office. They launched from Orofino shortly after 8 a.m. and flew toward Warren. 

The weather, along with the mountainous terrain made the flight to Warren difficult. At one point, it was almost necessary to reverse course and land on the Salmon River until the snow, fog and clouds cleared sufficiently to allow the flight to continue, but they were able to get through. However they found no one there. 

Unbeknownst to the Back Country crew, McCall-Donnelly Fire Department had started out from Warren to transport the patient by quardatrack on the Warren Wagon Road because they did not think a helicopter could make it into the area in the storm. Consequently, BCM had to chase them down. 

They finally made contact with the patient and McCall-Donnelly Fire Department personnel at Secesh Saddle which is about 15–20 miles south of Warren on the Warren Wagon Road. 

Back Country Medics flew Drake to the McCall airport and he was taken by ground ambulance to the McCall Hospital because there is no helipad at the hospital. 

Communications was a significant issue during the course of the flight due to the involvement of different groups and the inability to access repeater sites which are few and far between in the wilderness area.

The patient and the McCall-Donnelly Fire Department crew transporting him on quadratrack were at Secesh Saddle. This is a shot down from the helicopter. Photo by Mike Norton, Back Country Medics

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