Just thought I'd like to share an interesting call with you guys. it's a long story, but some might find it entertaining.
For a little background I am a Paramedic for a private ambulance company in Fallon, NV (about an hour east of Reno). We cover a total area of 5400 square miles of Churchill County as well as very frequent mutual aid responses to other counties further into the desert. We do all of this with two ambulances (2 wheel drive by the way) per day and we're up to 3200 calls this year. We have a volunteer fire department (which does not respond to any medical or even vehicle crashes unless we call them). We are also fortunate in this area to have NAS Fallon (home of Topgun) with an excellent fire dept and SAR helo. I was a firefighter for about a year, as well as a member of a SAR team in Reno for a little bit.
We were called at 1600hrs for a sheep hunter who was having chest pain. This man called his son who relayed the info to our dispatch. They were unable to get a hold of him as his cell phone was no longer active. His location as dispatch put it was "somewhere on the west face of the clan alpine mountains off bench creek road." Helpful indeed. My partner and I accompanied by one sheriff unit made our way to this dirt road which branches off the highway about 60 miles east of Fallon out in the snow capped, very remote desert peaks. We went up the very unstable, snow covered and now muddy road in our 2wd ambulance. About 10 miles in we turned around so we wouldn't get stuck. The sun was setting and we were unable to locate this man's vehicle which he was supposed to be a "couple of canyons north from". It was about 1700 when i spotted a blinking light about 1/2 mile off of the road and 1000 ft up a very steep mountainside. This was him, and it was amazing i saw him.
Realizing we were not able to make it up this mountain or even close to the foot of it, we requested out SAR helo from the Navy base (a seahawk which i had the pleasure of flying in to Reno the previous week). They responded trying to assemble a crew. At about this time, we were met by some of this man's friends in an H1 Hummer. They told us he was alone. I had my doubts that even an H1 could traverse the very severe terrain across the 1/2 mile to the base of the mountain, but they did and proceeded to hike the 1000 ft of maybe 50 degree incline, which to my amazement, they also accomplished (great friends indeed).
To shorten this story a little, the Navy reported they were now unable to fly, the medical helicopter (without a hoist) from reno turned around due to low fuel. This man's condition was deteriorating according to the friends via CB. Our only hope was to call the county SAR team and rely on 6 young ranch hand / cowboys to get to this man.
The ground was now frozen, we had been here for 2 hours, the man was dying, and I had to get to him. We were discouraged from going, but why else do i do this job? The horses were loaded with our ambulance gear and I hopped on with one of the cowboys.
We were able to make it across the 1/2 mile of rough desert to the base of the hill and about 100 yards up the mountain before it got too steep. Some of the best riders went on up and i trekked (with the dying man's son) the rest of the way carrying a backboard and some other equipment. I'm 25, in good physical shape, but proceeded to vomit after the 1000 ft of snow covered, jagged rocks.
At near 6000 ft with the most amazing sky above, on a jagged hillside around a precariously placed campfire, his colossal big horn sheep kill, with his son, two friends, six cowboys and a paramedic, that man died. It was now 2000 hrs.
The ground SAR team arrived at the road (now a little train of lights far below) but we told them we would handle the recovery. I have to hand it to those cowboys, most no older than 20. Real wild west kids. We packed down all of the gear, the deceased gentleman, and made it safely (albeit damn scary at times sliding towards a sheer 300 ft cliff, in the dark and snow) to the rescue crews below.
I've had a lot of amazing experiences so far (yes even though I'm young, I'm well travelled growing up in a Navy family), but this was an adventure I'll never forget.