On Tuesday August 25, Inyo County Sheriff’s office was notified of a woman who was “unable to speak” and “in shock” at Mirror Lake on the Mt Whitney trail. At 19:00, SAR members were requested to respond. A hasty team of three Inyo SAR members was in the vicinity of Lone Pine; they quickly gathered medical gear, and began hiking up the trail at 20:10. Four more SAR members began hiking shortly after with the wheeled litter. CalFire was also dispatched to assist with manpower.
Family members related to us that the patient had been in the mountains since Saturday, and that they had spent 3 days acclimatizing. On Tuesday, they summited Mt. Whitney, and began descending back down the trail. Around 13:00 on August 25 at just over 10,000 ft elevation, patient began complaining that she felt “weird” and had a headache. Patient then started to become confused, then unable to speak. Patient soon started stumbling, and could not stand up. Six hikers noticed that the patient needed help and carried her from Mirror Lake to Outpost Camp using a makeshift litter. Family stated patient had a full body seizure while being carried. Knowing more help was on the way and too exhausted to continue carrying the patient, the Good Samaritan hikers left the patient with family in a tent bundled in emergency blankets and sleeping bags.
The hasty team arrived at Outpost Camp and contacted the patient and family at approximately 22:15, and began rendering BLS medical care. On arrival, patient was responsive to painful stimuli only. Patient appeared to be in a stupor, unable to speak or follow commands. She vomited shortly after our arrival. Patient was immediately turned on her side to prevent aspiration. The rest of the SAR members arrived with the wheeled litter, and patient was repackaged on her side and secured in the litter. The seven SAR members began carrying the patient down the trail at 23:15. On the switchbacks above Lone Pine Lake, the first three CalFire crew members caught up to the team and relieved SAR team members. Three more CalFire crew members arrived later, and the group of 13 people carried the patient to Whitney Portal, arriving at 03:15, where an ambulance was waiting to transport the patient to the hospital.