A mountain rescue near the top of one Idaho’s highest peaks tested the skills of the Air St. Luke’s 2 crew members – which they passed with flying colors.
Late in the afternoon on Sept. 5, a hiker needed medical help near the top of Mount Idaho – a popular climbing spot and the state’s seventh-highest peak at 12,065 feet above sea level. The mountain is one of seven Idaho “12ers” (peaks above 12,000 feet) along the Lost River range in the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Custer County.
Air St. Luke’s crew pilot Scott Prow, paramedic Bret Turner and RN Kenna Olmsted were dispatched from St. Luke’s Magic Valley, but the hiker was on a very steep slope. Due to the terrain, Air St. Luke’s 2, the only twin-engine air ambulance based in Idaho, could not land nearby.
Instead, Prow found a small saddle on the western ridge at 10,800 feet and landed in the “sweet spot.” Challenging conditions led to a cautious approach into the landing area.
Once on the ground, Turner hiked to the individual and provided medical care. The Bell 429 helicopter also was used to shuttle volunteers from Custer County to assist. Turner and some of those volunteers stayed the night on the mountain.
After weighing the risk, the retrieval plan was to return at daylight. Air St. Luke’s 2 flew in the next morning and picked up the injured hiker. Everyone else got off the mountain safely.
“Incidents of this nature require an extraordinary amount of coordination, communication and preparation,” said Blaine Patterson, director of Emergency Medical Services for Air St. Luke’s. “Those responding from each agency involved contributed in meaningful ways to assure a safe and successful outcome. The combination of the right tools, skills and expertise exhibited by all involved, including the Air St Luke’s pilot, medical crew, and communications specialists, is commendable.”
Michelle Bartlome is the public relations manager at St. Luke's Magic Valley.