Man clings to bush, avoids significant injury or death in a long, steep fall

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - In this photo of a training session, the method of rescuing a person from a relatively inaccessible place is demonstrated using ropes and a plastic litter. A similar method was used in last week's rescue near Estacada. A hiker who had slipped off a trail in the Mt. Hood National Forest south of Estacada needed help just after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 20.

Help came quickly from the American Medical Response Reach and Treat team of paramedics and emergency medical technicians, based in Sandy.

The man had apparently lost his footing on the loose and wet trail, sliding down the first 25 feet of a steep, 200-foot slope that ended at the river.

When a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer located the hiker, he was lodged against a bush on the steep slope.

When the rescuers arrived, paramedics stabilized the patient in a litter and set up a low-angle rope system to raise the patient back to the trail.

With the help of the Forest Service's Quick Response Team, they moved the man safely to the trailhead and transported him to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

"If this individual had not been stopped by the bush, he likely would have continued to slide several hundred feet down to the river and could have been seriously or fatally injured," said the lead paramedic. "With the very wet spring we've had, hikers should pay close attention to their footing, keeping in mind that trails can be in poor condition."

The Reach and Treat team members have responded to wilderness rescues in Clackamas County since 1989.

The team trains monthly to keep skills sharp and be able to perform these rope rescue operations.

Backcountry travelers should exercise appropriate caution on the trail, according to the rescue team.

They also should carry adequate personal gear, be prepared to stay longer than planned and always leave a planned route of travel and return time with a reliable third party - someone who could contact 9-1-1 if hikers are overdue.

Because of federal privacy laws, paramedics cannot release patient information or photos.

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