Crews rescue man suffering heart attack perched 4,700-feet on mountain

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Crews performed an eight-hour rescue Saturday after a father and son hunting trip was cut short when the father began suffering from what appeared to be a heart attack while perched on the peak of Utah Hill.

Intermountain Life Flight Helicopter lands in a staging area to transport a man believed to be suffering a heart attack on Utah Hill Saturday, Washington County, Utah, Oct. 21, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Darrell Cashin, St. George News

Just before 8 a.m., the man’s son called 911 reporting that his father was experiencing chest pains after hiking up the hill.

Emergency personnel from Santa Clara and Ivins fire departments were sent to the area once dispatchers gleaned the GPS coordinates by pinging the caller’s cell phone. Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue were also notified of the incident.

The hiker’s son also advised dispatch that his father was feeling pain in his left arm. He was told to keep his father still and remain in their location at the top of Utah Hill, Sgt. Darrell Cashin,  Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Liaison, said.

At an elevation of more than 4,700 feet, Utah Hill is part of the Beaver Dam Mountains in Washington County.

Crews composed of ground, high-angle and EMS teams were assembled and dispatched to the area to assist in the rescue of the hiker, taking into account the rugged terrain and inaccessibility of the pair’s location.

EMTs were making their way to the area as a crew from Intermountain Life Flight launched and was joined by rescue teams.

“When Life Flight arrived, they were able to give us some very good intel, and they could see the two men but were unable to land anywhere near the top of Utah Hill due to high winds and dangerous landing conditions,” Cashin said.

Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter responds to Utah Hill to rescue a man believed to be having a heart attack Saturday, Washington County, Utah, Oct. 21, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Darrell Cashin, St. George News

As rescuers made their way to the location, Cashin contacted the Arizona Department of Public Safety to request aerial assistance from the agency’s rescue helicopter. Within an hour, it was launched and headed toward Utah Hill.

The helicopter is equipped to do a short-haul rescue where the patient is transported while suspended beneath the helicopter during the flight to a nearby landing zone, making the flight as short as possible. Arizona DPS maintains a fleet of five air rescue helicopters strategically placed at four bases across the state; they are flown by Arizona State Troopers and cover more than 113,000 square miles.

Meanwhile, the hiker and his son remained in their original location while the son built a fire to keep his father warm and as comfortable as possible until help arrived.

Crews reached the man after several hours of hiking and found that he presented signs of a heart attack, Cashin said, adding that any exertion caused the man to feel pain in his chest and his physical condition to deteriorate.

Rescuers were unable to move the man due to his physical condition, so the emergency medical team continued to provide treatment until the helicopter arrived about an hour later.

The hiker was assessed by the medical flight crew before he was secured in a litter and short-hauled to a staging area nearby where Life Flight was waiting. He was then loaded onto the transport helicopter and flown to Dixie Regional Medical Center for treatment.

Rescuers and Intermountain Life Flight Helicopter post at staging area to transport a man believed to be suffering a heart attack on Utah Hill Saturday, Washington County, Utah, Oct. 21, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Darrell Cashin, St. George News

The eight-hour rescue was a difficult one, Cashin said, noting the hours-long hike to reach the man, the necessity of launching two helicopters, the precarious condition of the hiker and the fact that he was on top of a mountain.

“It made for a very long day,” he said.

Cashin commended both the search and rescue teams and the emergency medical personnel from Santa Clara and Ivins fire departments who remained with the ill hiker for hours while the short-haul helicopter made its way from Kingman, Arizona.

The man was treated at the hospital and is in stable condition as of Sunday.

“I’m telling you right now, if that man had tried to hike out of there to get help, he probably wouldn’t be here right now,” Cashin said, adding, “and I’m just really proud of everyone who took part in this very difficult rescue – where a man was taken off of the top of a mountain and landed in the hospital.”

“Thankfully, we were able to help him,” Cashin said.

Santa Clara Fire Department, Ivins Fire Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, Intermountain Life Flight and Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue responded and tended to the scene.

St. George News Senior Reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this report.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • ladybugavenger October 22, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    They are amazing people!

  • .... October 23, 2017 at 6:48 am

    Yep !

  • Anon October 23, 2017 at 8:19 am

    We are so fortunate to live in an area with the natural wonders that we do AND a SAR team that is so good at what they do. I’m so glad that this story had a happy ending.

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