Statewide search and rescue training turns into real-life rescue

SAND HOLLOW STATE PARK — A statewide search and rescue training event at Sand Hollow Reservoir immediately changed course Saturday after an unconscious man came to the water’s surface.

Numerous rescuers and emergency personnel assist after a swimmer lost conciousness at Sand Hollow during a Search and Rescue training, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 17, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers
Numerous rescuers and emergency personnel assist after a swimmer lost conciousness at Sand Hollow Reservoir during a Search and Rescue training Saturday. Sand Hollow State Park, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 17, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers

Search and rescue teams from across Utah met at Sand Hollow State Park Saturday for training comprised of ground operations, dive practices and mock rescues.

Saturday’s training was to present a mock drowning exercise to allow rescuers to advance their diving and recovery skills.

Instead of the mock drowning exercise that was scheduled an actual incident unfolded in the water when a 21-year-old Carbon County man attempted to swim to the island in the middle of the reservoir, Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Darrell Cashin of the county’s search and rescue team said.

A dive team was nearby in the water performing a lift bag exercise and heard a woman cry for help as her boyfriend came to the surface unconscious. One of the divers reached the unconscious swimmer and called for assistance, Cashin said.

At that point, other search and rescue personnel began arriving at the main boat dock, having heard the call while participating in various field and dive exercises throughout the park.

Nearly 100 officers, rescue personnel and park rangers responded.

Classic Air Medical helicopter holding at Sand Hollow's main dock along with Hurricane Valley Fire District Ambulance if needed for near drowning victim, Saturday, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 17, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Classic Air Medical helicopter holding at Sand Hollow State Park’s main dock at the reservoir along with Hurricane Valley Fire District ambulance if needed for near-drowning victim, Saturday, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 17, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Very quickly the man was pulled from the water and placed in a search and rescue boat, according to the written statement from Sand Hollow State Park Manager Laura Melling. Emergency medical procedures were immediately initiated she said.

“I stopped all of the training,” Cashin said, “and had Classic Air Medical fly over to the scene, and everyone started running to the main dock.”

Three Classic emergency flight personnel were on the south side of the reservoir conducting simulated training runs throughout the day and were preparing to return to their station in Arizona when the distressed swimmer call came in.

At that point Classic’s emergency medical flight crew went to the main boat dock with the helicopter on standby and assisted with the rescue efforts. Hurricane Valley Fire District, whose EMTs participated in the all day training, also assisted and had a waiting ambulance nearby.

After providing emergency medical care and performing CPR for more than 45 minutes the man was loaded into the ambulance and transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George. As this report was taken and published, the man’s condition has not been released.

“To have nine agencies from all over Utah go from a training to a rescue,” Cashin said, “and to have it work like it did today; it’s like they had all been working together for 20 years.”

Search and Rescue statewide training held at Sand Hollow State Park Saturday, Hurricane, Utah, Spet. 17, 2016 } Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Search and Rescue statewide training held at Sand Hollow State Park Saturday, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 17, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

County sheriff’s offices and search and rescue teams represented during Saturday’s training came from Iron, Sanpete, Tooele, Weber, Sevier, Wasatch, and Washington counties.  Also participating in the training were members of the Utah Highway Patrol Public Safety Dive Team, Hurricane Valley Fire District, Intermountain Life Flight helicopter out of St. George, Classic Lifeguard helicopter out of Page, Arizona, and Sand Hollow State Park rangers.

Search and rescue teams in Utah are run under the umbrella of the county sheriff’s offices. While there may be sheriff’s deputies who serve on the search and rescue teams, many of the team members are volunteers.

The Washington County Search and Rescue team is currently composed of 76 members, 75 of them volunteers. The only paid member on the team is sheriff’s Deputy Darrell Cashin who serves as the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team liaison.

“We were one in purpose,” Cashin said, “we were there to do everything in our power to help save a life – that’s it.”

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Posted in Local, NewsTagged , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.