Combined rescue effort helps 2 mountain bikers near Gooseberry Mesa

Composite image showing Gooseberry Mesa in Washington County, Utah | Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Two mountain bikers were transported out of a remote, rugged area of Washington County on all-terrain vehicles by search and rescue teams Friday afternoon.

Map displays location of Gooseberry Mesa and its proximity to Hildale, from which medical personnel responded to a reported injury, Washington County, Utah | Image courtesy of Google Earth, St. George News

Shortly before 1 p.m. the St. George 911 Communications Center notified Sgt. Darrell Cashin, Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue liaison, that a woman in her late 20s was injured and experiencing some type of chest pain after she crashed while riding a mountain bike in the Gooseberry Mesa area.

Search and rescue teams were mobilized and were joined by EMTs and paramedics from Hildale/Colorado City Fire and Rescue. Once the teams arrived at the Gooseberry Trail Head, they set up a staging area to organize the rescue effort.

“The biggest issue wasn’t necessarily the severity of the injury but the remoteness of the area and to hone in on it, and then to find the right location,” Hildale/Colorado City Fire Chief Kevin Barlow said.

From there, the teams made their way through several miles of rugged terrain as far as they were able to go on ATVs. Crews hiked the last several hundred yards up a steep wash to the injured biker’s location.

Gooseberry Mesa area where a woman was injured when she crashed her mountain bike Friday, Washington County, Utah | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, St. George News

Rescuers found the woman conscious but in a great deal of pain, Cashin said, and began treating her for possible rib fractures before she was bundled in blankets and padding and placed into a stokes basket to prepare for the 3-4-mile ATV ride back to the trail head.

“The rider was in excruciating pain,” Cashin said, adding that the team considered calling in Intermountain Life Flight to fly the rider out; however, the rocky terrain did not allow for a safe helicopter landing.

The rescue group brought an inflatable air mattress, which was used to reduce the amount of movement for the injured rider and reduced the chance of further injury during the ATV ride through rocky terrain back to the staging area.

Another woman in the riding group suffered a seizure shortly before rescuers got there.

“She told us she’s had them before but was not feeling well when we got there, was weak and nauseated, but she declined to be treated,” Cashin said.

Map shows remoteness of Gooseberry Mesa area where mountain bike rider was rescued Friday, Washington County, Utah | Image courtesy of Google Earth, St. George News

But recognizing that she did indeed need help, Cashin had two of his rescuers help her to the ATVs, and she was driven back to the staging area, as well.

“There was no way, with what had happened, that she could have made it all the way back to the trail head on her own,” Cashin said, referring to the woman who suffered a seizure. “So, it ended up being a single rescue with more than one victim.”

The combined effort of teams from Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and Hildale/Colorado City Fire and Rescue was instrumental in providing medical aid and transport to both riders as they made their way back to the trail head where the ambulance was waiting.

“Between all of us, we could move her, get all of her gear out and help her group to get out and back up to the trail head,” Cashin said.

The injured rider was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center for evaluation and treatment, with the mountain bike group she was riding with close behind.

“I felt that the interface with the search and rescue guys was excellent,” Barlow said, “and the rescue went very well.”

The teams completed the rescue in a little more than 4 hours and were on their way home shortly after 5 p.m.

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  • Carpe Diem March 11, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    A touching rescue.

  • ScanMeister March 11, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    Great reporting for this technical rescue. Glad we have these trained professional team members to bring this event to a positive conclusion. Thanks to all involved.

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