Grand County Search and Rescue saves man at Bowen Lake
Grand County Search and Rescue has completed its second high altitude rescue in three weeks.
Grand County Search and Rescue was paged at 4:54 a.m. Tuesday, July 28, for a 20-year-old male, at Bowen Lake with probable altitude sickness at the 11,400-foot high lake.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office was alerted through a Delorme “In Reach” two way satellite pagingtexting device. This device is different than the PLB (personal locator beacon) used during last week’s mission in the Meadow Creek area. The Delorme device gives an exact GPS location and allows for two way communication through a third party rescue center.
The subject was attending an “adventure camp” and was in the field for multiple days. The group leader had planned to walk out at first light, and hike seven miles back to the trailhead. Searchers communicated back to the group and “ordered” them to stay put and await medical assistance.
The subject was exhibiting signs of HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), including a crackling chest. This is not common and is potentially deadly.
After conferring with the Sheriff’s Office, Search and Rescue Incident Commander, Mike Leiser, decided to page the team and Grand County EMS Mountain Medical Response Team in preparation for the ascent to Bowen Lake. During this time, Flight for Life Colorado airship, code name Lifeguard 1, was called to launch and fly directly to the subject in an effort to immediately render medical aid.
Lifeguard 1 was able to land in a small open area near the subject, pick him up and make a quick exit for the hospital. The medical crew used a pulse oximeter to measure the subject’s oxygen saturation level, which normally would be approximately 90 percent at 10,000 feet. His level was just 54 percent. Recognizing the immediate danger of hypoxia; the flight nurse and paramedic administered oxygen at a very high rate. At last report the subject was out of immediate danger.
Had the group attempted to walk out unaided, or rescuers and medical personnel could not reach him in time; the subject would probably have had catastrophic medical issues and may not have survived the trip down.
“Working together; we probably saved a life today,” said Incident Commander Leiser.
Grand County Search and Rescue is a nonprofit, all-volunteer, professional rescue organization, accredited by the Mountain Rescue Association, providing four-season emergency back county service in Grand County at no charge to residents or guests. Find GCSAR online at http://www.facebook.com/GCSAR.
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Editor’s note: The following letter to the community was submitted to the Sky-Hi News by Winter Park Mayor Nick Kutrumbos.