July 24, 2017
Early Sunday morning Inyo SAR was called out for a 30-year-old male with an unknown lower leg injury near Temple Crag. The injured subject and his partner had called for assistance via a third party and thus there was no way to get in touch with the injured party to gain more information about their location or the extent of the injury. CHP H-80 out of Apple Valley searched the area for the subject while two Inyo SAR members were inserted to make contact with the numerous parties in the Temple Crag area, hoping one of them had more information on the patients. CHP H-70 out of Paso Robles was also brought in for their hoist capabilities as a similar scenario in 2015 turned into an epic day for Inyo SAR, but would have been significantly less epic with the help of a helicopter hoist. Eventually SAR learned through other parties that the patient had self-evacuated that morning.
If you request search and rescue services and no longer need them, it’s your duty to inform SAR of the change. SAR is happy to help when needed, but false calls cause resources to be wasted and volunteers to take time off work and away from their families and own adventures unnecessarily, possibly diverting resources from someone who actually needs them.
Meanwhile, on Mt. Whitney, a series of incidents were brewing. Inyo SAR first received multiple notifications about a subject who had fallen through a deep hole in the snow, could not get out, and was beginning to show signs of hypothermia. Due to lightning, H-70 was quickly turned around from trying to insert SAR members at the scene. As the team hiked up the Whitney trail toward the patient, they soon learned the initial subject had made it out of the hole and was self-evacuating with minor injuries. However, seemingly every other person on the Whitney trail (of whom there are a lot) either had something wrong with them or had a tale of someone further up the trail in need of assistance. Between the trailhead and Outpost Camp, 3.8 miles in, SAR members contacted and assessed a knee injury sustained in a fall, a possible hyponatremia case, a woman suffering from AMS, and the initial fall victim who had sustained a possible sprained ankle and lacerations to the head. Luckily, all of these people were being helped out by dedicated friends. Thus the attentions of the SAR team turned to the final subject of the day, a 72-year-old male who, on his way back from summiting Whitney, had slipped and fallen 10-30 feet on steep snow and rock just below Trail Camp. The hasty team members made it to the subject and his party around 20:15 and began assessing his injuries. The subject had suffered lacerations to the head and a loss of consciousness and described significant chest pain upon movement, palpation and/or breathing. After the initial assessment by the hasty team, two other SAR members took over care around 21:00 so that the other four SAR members could hoof it out in time for work Monday morning. SAR monitored the subject, who remained in stable condition, throughout the night. In the morning, H-40 out of Fresno was able to land near Trail Camp and transport the subject to the hospital for further treatment. Special thanks to CHP Air-Ops and the many friends and strangers who helped the numerous patients throughout the day, including the backpackers who provided the 72-year-old subject, a day hiker, with lots of gear to make his overnight much warmer and more comfortable.