Mission 05-01
Injured Hiker, Sardine Mountain, Marion County

by Bob Freund

Member hours: 68                     Participants: Clunes, Dagata, Freund, Dickman, Lyall, S. Linn, J. Linn

At approximately 1400 on Sunday, January 23rd, 49 year old Kim was descending Sardine Mountain (Marion Co.) with two other Chemeketan's (Salem-based hiking/climbing club) as part of a conditioning hike on a primitive trail. Kim slipped on loose, wet rock, fell from a standing position and slid about 20 feet resulting in an anterior dislocation of her left shoulder.

With her companions' help, Kim was able to descend about half a mile but eventually she could proceed no further. While Kris hiked back to their car to call for help, Carlos remained with Kim. The two of them were able to descend a bit further before Kim had to stop for good. Carlos began preparing a bivy site for Kim and himself.

Video of the truck, with Bob in the back,
on the narrow road
with commentary by Lindsay and Jim D. (18 mb)

Scott and others wait while Bob checks rigging for a lower

Meanwhile, Kris reached 911 on a wireless phone about 1530 and fire personnel from Gates and Lyons were dispatched. Marion County SAR was notified at 1616 and responded to Sardine Creek Road (Hwy 22 m.p. 40.5) arriving just as darkness fell. Kris accompanied the fire personnel back to Kim and Carlos.

Marion County Crew 18 personnel reached Kim about 2000. After assessing the patient's condition, the terrain, and their equipment situation, they elected to delay ground evacuation until daylight. They brought additional overnight equipment for Kim and her care-givers. Weather on-scene was clear, full moon, and temperature was around 50 degrees (remember it is January) but fog in the Willamette Valley kept helicopters (Oregon National Guard and Life Flight) grounded. Initially, Crew 18 felt the ground evacuation would not require CMRU's assistance. Radio traffic from units on this mission was easily heard in Salem and CMRU was being kept informed of the mission’s progress via messages on its pager system.

Bob and Scott carefully guide
Kim and the litter during the lower

Many arms were necessary to carry
Kim through the brushy terrain
At about 2345 CMRU's Mission Coordinator was called by the Incident Commander asking us to stage at base camp at 0630. Intown Coordinator, Joy Linn, conducted a pageout. CMRU members arrived between 0600 and 0630 and received their briefing around 0645. By 0715 we were heading up Sardine Creek Road - a 3 ½ mile adventure of rocks, boulders, steep slopes, washouts, and waterbars. (At one point the truck driver could not see road below his side window - just light and air. The passenger got that same view on the way down!)

We all arrived at an upper staging area by 0800 and met with Crew 18 and fire department personnel to formulate an evacuation plan and equipment list. It was decided that CMRU's breakapart litter would be easier to carry than the one piece litters of Crew 18 or Gates Fire. We took three 300 foot ropes, one full rack and part of a second rack. Crew 18 carried the litter.

Leaving our vehicles at the upper staging area, we departed at 0815 and arrived on scene at 0840. Jim, Bonnie, and Becky began rigging a lowering station about 50 feet above Kim's location, Lindsay and Scott assembled the litter, and Bob stayed out of their way, talked on the radio, and coordinated patient packaging issues with the medical care-givers. Kim was lifted using a 6 person blanket lift and the litter was slid beneath her.

Once on flatter ground, Bob assisted gravity by holding the bag of fluids
About 0930 the evacuation began. First a 300 foot lower with seven people carrying the litter over moderately steep, unstable talus to gentler ground. From there it was a carry-out (with a short tag line on the litter) over moderate, brushy terrain for about ¼ mile along a ridgetop before the ridge pitched over again for the last ¼ mile to the upper staging area. After the initial lower, Kim was more comfortable in a sitting or semi-sitting position (the usual position of comfort for someone with a dislocated shoulder) which raised the center of gravity of the litter package. On the final section of the trail, we kept a running belay on the litter using re-direct pulleys and some "tree-direct" points as the unimproved trail wound down the mountainside.

Bonnie, Becky and Scott demonstrate
how everything involves team work, even putting away gear

Kim and the litter were carefully stowed
before being driven down the narrow road
Kim reached the upper staging area around 1130 and was reassessed, kept in the litter, and transported via Scott's Blazer back (down the adventuresome road) to base camp. Kim and the litter were transferred to an ambulance (with the news media rendering full media honors --coverage) and she was taken to Gates Airstrip where the ambulance was met by Air Life's helicopter. She was flown to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend since the valley fog still prevented flights into Salem or Portland.
CMRU reached base about 12:45. We cleaned up and organized our gear, got a hot meal from Marion County SAR's mobile kitchen, and held a short debriefing with IC before departing for home about 1330. Even though the truck showed a bit of an attitude (backfiring a couple times going up Sardine Creek Road in 4L, and not wanting to easily slip out of 4 wheel drive once we got back to blacktop) it made it up and back without itself becoming a major part of the incident response. We were all home by 1600.

Local SAR teams provided warm food for tired rescuers, much appreciated by Becky, Jim D., S and the others

Photos courtesy of Lindsay Clunes