Injured mountain biker requires 5-hour rescue near Flying Monkey Trail

Stock photo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A mountain biker suffered a serious leg injury while riding near the Flying Monkey Trail in Washington County Tuesday and was transported to the hospital after rescuers carried him out of a deep ravine during a five-hour rescue operation.

The Flying Monkey Trail is located on Smith Mesa and is accessed through Virgin. The trail is used by mountain bikers and hikers and is rated “extremely difficult” by the Bureau of Land Management.

Just after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the St. George Communications Center received a call reporting a man had fallen into a deep ravine and was injured while mountain biking near the trail. When emergency personnel arrived they located the man down an embankment with a possible fractured femur, Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Darrell Cashin said.

As emergency personnel worked to stabilize the man’s injuries for transport, deputies contacted Washington County Search and Rescue volunteers to help lift him out of the ravine, Cashin said. Once stabilized and placed in a basket, emergency personnel and deputies began carrying the man out of the ravine as Search and Rescue volunteers arrived and provided assistance.

It was believed that the Search and Rescue High Angle Team would need to be called out, Cashin said, due to the steep incline emergency personnel were dealing with. Instead, rescuers and deputies continued carrying the man to a waiting ambulance at the top of the ridge. He was then transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George to be treated for his injuries.

The entire rescue operation took just over five hours, mainly due to the difficult terrain and steep incline that rescuers had to contend with.

That guy’s lucky that his friend riding with him called 911 when he did,” Cashin said. “It appeared that the man had a significant leg injury when rescuers arrived.”

“If that leg was in fact broken those injuries can cause severe bleeding,” he said, “particularly because the bone is so close to arteries, tendons and muscle; so damage and uncontrolled bleeding occurs rapidly and can become life threatening very quickly.”

Locating the injured man was made easier by the GPS coordinates transmitted from his friend’s cell phone when he called 911.  Those coordinates were relayed to emergency responders who were able to locate him quickly, Cashin said.

Rescue operations where GPS coordinates are not available, or in remote locations without cell phone service, require a different approach: rescuers revert to traditional tracking methods such as grid searches or “man-tracking” – a technique by which searchers follow footprints, divots, displaced rocks or other indicators to determine the direction of travel.

GPS coordinates can greatly reduce the size of the search area, which saves rescuers time when trying to locate someone who is lost, injured or missing, Cashin said.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Search and Rescue team and Hurricane Ambulance responded to the scene.

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