ST. GEORGE — The St. George Fire Department and Washington County Search and Rescue team joined forces Thursday morning to rescue a motorcyclist who had broken his leg while riding a dirt bike in a rugged area southwest of St. George.
A call came in at 9:30 a.m. reporting an injured man in his 40s about 6 miles out from the Bear Claw Poppy trailhead, St. George Fire Capt. Tyler Talbot said. The trailhead is located at the end of Navajo Drive in the Bloomington area of St. George.
“He wrecked and broke his lower leg,” Talbot said, but added that the man was reportedly awake and breathing.
Because the injured man was in rough terrain south of the Bear Claw Poppy trail, the search and rescue team was called to help, Talbot said, and responded with several volunteers and vehicles.
A command post was set up near Navajo Drive, Search and Rescue Commander Mike Thomas said.
There was some confusion initially about whether or not the injured man was up on a plateau, Thomas said.
A friend of the injured man phoned for help; however, he was at the bottom of the hill while the injured man himself was up on a ridge.
The man was found near Stucki Springs, about 4.5 miles south of Santa Clara as the crow flies, Thomas said, and 4.5 miles west of the Bloomington residential neighborhood.
“We determined it would be a lot easier to bring him out through Santa Clara than it was to try to bring him back down the ridge line,” Thomas said.
The man was transported to a waiting ambulance in Santa Clara using the fire department’s new six-wheeled Polaris Ranger, which is specially outfitted with a stretcher, Thomas said.
Gold Cross Ambulance then transported the injured man to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George for medical attention, Talbot said. Bureau of Land Management personnel also responded to the incident.
The Fire Department acquired its Polaris Ranger all-terrain vehicle in February of 2015 through a grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. The nonprofit foundation provides funding to first responders and public safety organizations with money from restaurant customers who donate through local fundraising initiatives.
The ATV had been on the Fire Department’s wish list for a long time because it could provide additional mobility in the backcountry around St. George, as well as on the city’s 100-plus miles of trails. But, at nearly $20,000, that wish had always been beat out by budget priorities, such as annual fire engine maintenance, which can run as high as $15,000 for a single engine.
Since the donation in February, the Polaris Ranger has been used several times, Talbot said, in Santa Clara, in Hidden Valley near Desert Hills High School and on the Bear Claw Poppy Trail.
“Just about any rural areas within the city is where we use it,” he said.
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