WASHINGTON COUNTY – The Arizona Department of Public Safety assisted in a search and rescue operation Thursday involving an injured teen on the western side of Washington County.
Shortly after 4 p.m., a youth group hiking in an area west of West Mountain Peak in the Beaver Dam Mountains called 911 when one of the hikers, a 17-year-old male, slipped and fell 25 feet, Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher said.
Members of the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team responded to the call alongside medics from Ivins-Santa Clara Fire/Rescue and EMS departments.
It took over an hour to hike into the area where the boy was located and a preliminary medical assessment determined the teen had broken both legs, an ankle and some ribs. The sheriff said the teen also appeared to have some injuries on the side of his face.
“We realized that if we had to pack him out, we were going to be five or six hours into this process,” Pulsipher said.
The boy needed to be hoisted out because the terrain in the area where he had fallen did not lend well to a safe landing zone.
A request was put into Intermountain Life Flight in St. George for assistance, but there was a problem. While available to deploy, the helicopter lacked the hoist needed to lift the fall victim out of the area.
With the local Life Flight helicopter out of the picture, a call was put in to the Utah Department of Public Safety in Salt Lake City – but again there was a problem. The Utah DPS helicopter was grounded due to unfriendly weather, as was another Life Flight helicopter stationed in Salt Lake City that was tried next.
A call for a hoist-equipped helicopter out of Grand Canyon National Park was made next; but once again, the request was turned down due to weather.
Still, the rescuers persisted and contacted the Arizona Department of Public Safety for help. This time it paid off.
The flight crew had to get special permission to cross state lines, but soon a hoist-equipped helicopter was on its way out of Flagstaff, Arizona, Pulsipher said.
A medic from the Arizona DPS helicopter was lowered at the end of a 150-foot line and helped the SAR team and medics get the teen securely packed into a hoist-basket. Once prepped, the injured teen and the ADPS medic were hooked onto the line and flown out to where an ambulance was waiting.
“It probably saved us three or four hours of hand-packing,” Pulsipher said.
The operation involved 14 SAR team members, as well as eight medics from the Ivins-Santa Clara Fire/Rescue and EMS departments. The operation itself wrapped up by 10 p.m.
Ed. note: The location of the incident described as being on the eastern side of Washington County has been CORRECTED to the western side.
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