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Rescue Log: Hiker Slips on Algae

Last month Sierra Madre Search and Rescue team members rescued an injured hiker who slipped on algae near Hermit Falls. Read on for more.

From Sierra Madre Search and Rescue:

During the month of September, Sierra Madre Search and Rescue (SMSR) responded to half a dozen calls for assistance. A selected set of calls are described below.

Williams Fire, San Gabriel Canyon: The Team provided command post support to the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s (LASD) Emergency Operations Bureau. Team members worked with deputies to develop supplemental evacuation plans for mountain areas at risk from the Williams fire. Training in the Incident Command System (ICS) allows search and rescue team members to fill a variety of roles during large or small incidents. 

Injured Hikers, Chantry Flat/Big Santa Anita Canyon: Sierra Madre Search and Rescue responded to reports of an injured hiker below Chantry Flat near Hermit Falls. Rescuers arrived on scene to find a hiker suffering from a shoulder injury resulting from a slip on algae near the falls. The hiker had attempted to stabilize the injury, but had fallen a second time and, due to his injuries, was unable to self-rescue. Based on their medical assessment, on-scene rescuers determined that a helicopter evacuation was warranted. LASD’s Air-5 was able to extract the injured hiker via hoist and transport him to Huntington Memorial Hospital. 

Critical Missing, Chantry Flat/Big Santa Anita Canyon: Forest Service personnel received a report of an elderly hiker missing in the Robert’s Camp area below Chantry Flat. A number of factors indicated that the missing individual could be at significant risk due to health concerns. SMSR responded and quickly deployed search crews along key trails in the area. The subject was found uninjured and escorted back to Chantry Flat. A search for individuals missing in the mountains is considered an emergency. Age, mental or physical health conditions (e.g., Alzheimers), required medications, weather and preparedness/experience can often create life-threatening situations for someone missing for even a short time. Waiting 24 hours is not necessary and rescue teams encourage you to limit delays in calling for assistance if someone is missing in the mountains.

Mutual Aid Request: Stranded Hiker, Eaton Canyon: SMSR received a request from Altadena Mountain Rescue (AMRT) to assist in the rescue of a hiker stranded on a cliff between the First and Second Waterfalls in Eaton Canyon.  SMSR joined AMRT, LA County Fire and Pasadena Fire on scene at the command post. Field crews were deployed to effect a ground-based rescue after several unsuccessful attempts at a hoist rescue via helicopter. SAR team members from SMSR and AMRT ascended Acrophobia Ridge and set up for a high angle rope rescue of the uninjured but stranded hiker. Rescuers were lowered to the hiker from above, secured him in a rescue harness and brought him approximately 250’ to the ground.   

As we shift into more winter-like weather patterns, outdoor recreationalists are reminded that being prepared is crucial for a safe trip into the mountains. Ensure that you are prepared for changes in the weather and shorter daylight hours by carrying sufficient warm clothing and a light source as part of your 10 essentials.  Remember to make sure someone knows where you’ve gone and when you will return. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Hiker Plan is a good way to document your plans.

For 60 years the all-volunteer Sierra Madre Search and Rescue team has been responding to calls for help in the local mountains and beyond. Funded entirely by private donations, SMSR provides a range of public programs on wilderness safety in addition to its search and rescue activities. The Team never charges for any of its services.

For more information, including how to arrange a wilderness safety demonstration for your school or group, visit www.smsr.org.

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