A 7-mile hike led to an 11-hour mission in which search and rescue crews rescued an injured man who was hunting locally.
The Archuleta County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) received the call at 5:08 p.m. on Oct. 10 of a 72-year-old man located between Fourmile Lake and Turkey Lake with a possible broken arm from falling off of a mule, according to an email from Deputy Director of Emergency Operations Christina Kraetsch.
Upon meeting with the reporting party, Kraetsch described the rescuing team as being “pumped” to go up the trail and start the search despite the length of the hike to the man’s location.
What followed was Kraetsch sending a “hasty” team of four to make patient contact and to also make note of any safe landing spaces if a helicopter was needed. Following that initial team was “Ground team one,” Kraetsch explained, which hiked in the larger equipment needed for the rescue.
“The trail the patient was located on is steep and in very [rough] terrain not to mention the temperatures dropped into the teens that night,” she wrote.
Around 11 p.m., the “hasty” team of four made contact with the male and stabilized his arm; around this same time a helicopter was given the coordinates for a landing zone, she explained.
“Fortunately, the pilot with the Flight crew was skilled enough to fly at night above 11,000 ft! This allowed our patient to receive the help he needed a lot sooner than if he had to be wheeled out in a litter by our rescue crews,” she added.
Eventually, around 1:30 a.m., the patient was on his way to the hospital. By the time everyone on the rescue was off the trail and back in town, it was around 3:30 a.m., according to Kraetsch.
“It was a long hard day but Emergency Management and Upper San Juan Search & Rescue did it with a smile,” she wrote. “We love what we do and love making someone’s bad day better.”
Keeping busy, another call was received by OEM on Oct. 12 around 2:45 p.m. of a injured 60-year-old man with a possible broken ankle, Kraetsch explained in a separate email.
The man was hunting with friends and family near the Middle Fork trailhead, she described.
Kraetsch explained that the man broke his ankle by twisting it as they were moving on foot.
“Emergency Management and Upper San Juan met up with the Reporting Party to be lead to the patients location,” she wrote. “The patient was about a mile in and was in good [spirits] despite his pain. After the injured party was assessed and packaged the teams hiked back to the vehicles where the patient was taken to the hospital to treat his [injuries].”