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Have you ever saved someone's life?
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(ardavis324) - F

Locale: High Sierra
Have you ever saved someone's life? on 05/15/2014 22:07:54 MDT Print View

A comment in the snakebite thread about being bitten by a venomous snake and trying to be found by just "one person", for hope of being rescued, got me wondering..

Have you ever come across someone in desperate need of help?

If so, how did you handle it?

Have you ever been helped by a stranger?

What would you do if you stumbled onto someone seriously injured, and you're many miles from any form of help?

Edited by ardavis324 on 05/15/2014 22:08:47 MDT.

TKB 1979

Re: Have you ever saved someone's life? on 05/15/2014 22:19:51 MDT Print View

"What would you do if you stumbled onto someone seriously injured, and you're many miles from any form of help?"

I honestly have no idea. I don't even know CPR. Or carry S&R gadgets, GPS thingies, et cetera.

Are you drawing ethical conclusions, or is that just my conscience? :)

With minor injuries or non-backcountry events that a lot of people would "freak out" about, I've always been calm, though. So maybe that would be my one contribution. Keeping the person calm, while keeping it to myself that I have no idea how to get you out of this.

Jorge Falcon
(jorge.falcon) - M

Locale: CCS
Never on 05/15/2014 22:58:40 MDT Print View

I don't know anything about treating wounds, bites, fractures. On that event I suppose i'll just walk towards civilization for help, leaving the injured as stable as possible and with water/food/shelter.

Edited by jorge.falcon on 05/27/2014 15:52:36 MDT.

Jeff Sims
(jeffreytsims) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal
... on 05/15/2014 23:59:59 MDT Print View


Edited by jeffreytsims on 05/16/2014 00:42:41 MDT.

Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
Why not take a WFA or WFR course? on 05/16/2014 04:01:06 MDT Print View

You'll learn a lot, and have a great weekend or three!

I just did a SOLO course, and recommend it. I'm sure others do equally well ( or maybe even better?) but can only speak to SOLO - very satisfied.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Why not take a WFA or WFR course? on 05/16/2014 08:55:51 MDT Print View

ahhh... SOLO is the provider who taught your WFR course.

I thought for a moment that SOLO was a WRF course for folks who hiked Solo.


Jim H
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
not in the backcountry... on 05/16/2014 09:06:40 MDT Print View

...but once my mother's Christmas sweater caught on fire in the kitchen and I tackled her with the giant blanket I'd been using on the couch. I was only about 13, so my only real recollection now is of how quickly the flames had spread on the coarse outside of the sweater. But amazingly, she was completely fine. Likely the flames grow larger each year in my memory.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Have you ever saved someone's life? on 05/16/2014 09:39:22 MDT Print View

I was getting down to a beach with my best friend from about 50 feet up with one sketchy area.
You had to slide down 6-8 feet and come to rest on a 12 X 6 inch flat spot.
Another 4-5 feet down was a 2 X 1 foot spot (where I was).

My friend went to slide down to the small spot above me.
He completely missed and rolled down the hill with his back side crashing into me.

I don't even know how I was able to stop him, but he wouldn't have stopped himself.

Below us was a 30 foot ledge going down at an 80 degree angle with chair size boulders. Death or serious disfigurement would have been very likely.

There was an easy path down from there, but not in the direction he was falling.

Edited by awsorensen on 05/16/2014 09:40:59 MDT.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Have you ever saved someone's life? on 05/16/2014 10:01:25 MDT Print View

I once ran into what I can only assume is the Chupa Cabra while on a recon patrol in Panama. I’m sure if I hadn’t screamed like a 9 y/o girl, we would have all been goners. No medal from that incident funny enough.

TKB 1979

Re: Re: Re: Re: Have you ever saved someone's life? on 05/16/2014 10:09:18 MDT Print View

"I’m sure if I hadn’t screamed like a 9 y/o girl, we would have all been goners."

Lol - that's great.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Have you ever saved someone's life? on 05/16/2014 10:13:02 MDT Print View

When I was around 20 I saved a friend from a possible drowning in a high Sierra glacial lake. He could swim, but I wouldn't say he's the best swimmer....not a lot of experience in water.

He dove in head first off a large rock, putting himself easily 30 feet from shore when he surfaced. He was so shocked from the cold (nobody tested the water first) that he completely seized up, lost it, and was having trouble breathing. I could see the panic in his eyes as he started thrashing, struggling to keep his head above water, choking and coughing. When I dove in to get him, he immediately started to grasp and claw for my neck and shoulders he was in such a panic. I was able to get behind him and swim him in while I had him in a headlock.

Drowning people are scary. They're more than happy to use you in any way they can to stay afloat, even if it means drowning you.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Have you ever saved someone's life? on 05/16/2014 10:33:13 MDT Print View

I was a crisis intervention volunteer in the early 1970's. We worked though a social service agency serving teenagers and young adults doing outreach for drug overdoses and bad trips, suicides, run-aways, child abuse issues, etc. There was one overdose that was scary. With the rest, I should have been scared but was young enough to think I was invincible.

I've attended to a couple broken shoulders/arms and some cuts, and doled out some moleskin and band-aids.

How did I handle it? If I'm not the victim, there's no need for ME to be upset! Training helps too I think. Keep them from bleeding to death, keep their airway clear, treat for shock, re-assure them, and be the rational one rather than adding to the mess. They would be in a lot worse shape if no one was there.

I've had a stranger give me a ride to help with a broken down car. I've never needed more than that.

"What would you do if you stumbled onto someone seriously injured, and you're many miles from any form of help?"

Stabilize them and go for help. One of my backcountry disaster scenarios concerns that subject. I would leave them with whatever water, food and shelter I could muster and head out with a water bottle and my own essentials in pockets or pack. It is entirely possible for the "rescuer" to become another victim, particularly if you are hiking in the dark to go for help, or you turn an ankle in your haste, etc, so I think it is a good idea to have the classic essentials on your person while going for help. All the classic backcountry horror stories are a cascading chain of screw-ups, so you need to make sure you don't add to the disaster. Be prepared and keep your head.

I don't think there is much more you can do. Of course you would have to evaluate the particular situation, like how busy the trail is, the availability of communications, severity and type of injury, etc.

Edited by dwambaugh on 05/16/2014 10:34:13 MDT.

Don Morris
(hikermor) - F
Saving Lives on 05/16/2014 11:52:34 MDT Print View

Yes,I have. You keep your head and deal with the situation. The more first aid and emergency training,the better.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Have you ever saved someone's life? on 05/16/2014 12:05:48 MDT Print View

+1 to Dale and some others. I always planned to stabilize the victim as much as I could and then prepare to hike out. Fortunately, here in the SE you aren't more than a days hike from cell service usually.

Also, I did save my daughter from drowning one time when she was really young.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Have you ever saved someone's life? on 05/16/2014 13:52:44 MDT Print View

While backpacking, high winds came up and snapped the 20' stump of a tree, which was limbless, and about 30" in diameter. As it rolled downhill toward us my friend slipped and fell. I picked her up by her pack and kept running.

A two year old in a pool slipped through a float ring and went to the bottom. I dove in and brought her up.

An 8 year old broke through the ice on a pond. I stopped the car, ran across a field, broke through the ice, waded in, hauled her out, drove to her home, carried her to the front door, and told her Mom - "Into the tub, Right Now".

Three guys were caught in an avalanche. We saved two.

I don't think there is any way to prepare for stuff like this. You just do it.

Edited by greg23 on 05/16/2014 15:16:58 MDT.

Eric Osburn
(osb40000) - MLife
Desert on 05/16/2014 14:46:03 MDT Print View

About six years ago a friend and I went offroading into the desert on a trail that sees next to no use. We climbed to the top of a pass and took in the view for a few minutes while we ate our lunch. Down in the valley I noticed movement and pulled out some binoculars to see what it was. There was a teenage boy limping and moving very slowly down a wash with no backpack or supplies. It took about fifteen minutes but we were able to catch up with him and chat.

It was immediately apparent that the boy, probably 16 or 17 old, was both mentally and physically disabled, dehydrated and unaware of the situation he was in being many many miles from people and disoriented. Turns out he thought it was a good idea to leave his family and just start hiking up into the mountains. He had spent a night on a mountain alone and cold and had no food or water. We gave him food and water and were eventually were able to reunite him with his family who were extremely thankful.

With no water he wouldn't have lasted another day in the desert heat.

John McAlpine
(HairlessApe) - M

Locale: PNW
Yes....I pulled a skier out of a tree well on 05/16/2014 15:06:34 MDT Print View

I just came off the lift at Snoqualmie Pass here in the Seattle area. A skier was screaming for help and i skied down to assist. His friend went head first in an inbound tree well. He said his friends legs were kicking at first, but had since gone limp. Another skier showed up and we hand dug like madmen. We exposed his legs and waist, we tried lifting but no movement. We exposed to his mid stomach and lifted again. This time he moved so we continued lifting and got him out. Within those 5 minutes we had 30 people around us that I hadnt noticed. The ski patrol was there and took him away. I have no idea wjat happened to the young man.

Edited by HairlessApe on 05/16/2014 15:55:55 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Yes I probably did... thanks to other dummies on 05/16/2014 15:24:21 MDT Print View

I saw a small non swimmer get pushed into the deep end of a camp pool. He sank like a rock. I wasn't the lifeguard but I just lay down by the pool, caught his arm and pulled him out. The lifegaurd didn't know anything was happening till it was over. All because a counselor AND a lifeguard didn't make their kids obey the pool rules. I found it hard to say nice things about those two after that.

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
Have you ever saved someone's life?" on 05/16/2014 16:37:28 MDT Print View

I was hiking towards Hannegan Pass in the North Cascades in the mid-1960's when I encountered an hysterical young woman at a snow finger/avalanche track that was crossing the trail. Her boyfriend had attempted to cross the snow while wearing tennis shoes, lost traction and slid about 400' down the snow into a tangle of avalanche debris. I worked my way down to him with the woman following. He was unconscious and doubled over butt first into a space between two logs. He was having extreme difficulty breathing and, in my experience as a former Army medic, was near death unless he could be removed from his trap. With a down coat as an improvised neck collar and the woman holding his neck straight we extracted him from between the logs and laid him out on a level area where his breathing immediately improved. I wrote a note describing the injuries and situation and had the woman get to the ranger station and to summon rescue while I stayed behind to support him. Help arrived in about five hours and the young man was transported to a hospital in Bellingham. He lived but was partially parylized below the waist; I heard later that he recovered a lot of leg function over time. I'm certain that I saved his life.

About nine months later his parents sued me claiming that his paralysis was a result of my moving him from the log pile. The suit was later dismissed as being without merit. I was out $2000 in legal fees and learned far more about the Washington Good Samaritan law than I cared to know. The young woman involved gave a deposition supporting my actions as did the rescue people which helped a lot. Still, the whole thing left a sour taste. Would I do it again? Yeah, but this time I would better document the steps I took and the reasons behind them. Hindsight is great.

Edited by Rincon on 05/21/2014 16:13:28 MDT.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Have you ever saved someone's life?" on 05/16/2014 16:38:49 MDT Print View

I have never helped someone who was critically injured or ill. I have plucked a kid off the rocks at the ocean, after he had to ditch his boat in high winds and was trying to make his way back to town following the shoreline and he was bouldering across a cliff face above the ocean. That probably would not have ended well. I've helped other people many times when out 4-wheeling or snowmobiling, some with injuries, but nothing where they were in imminent danger of death but possibly where they would have been screwed if we hadn't come along.

I would definitely stop and help someone who was injured/ill in the backcountry. My PLB's registration even makes note of that, I mention in it that I will activate it for another person and so they should not assume that the injured/ill party is me. I actually believe it's more likely to be somebody else because I'm extremely conservative and safety conscious on my trip planning. I would like to get training as a wilderness first responder so that I would be more able to help in backcountry emergencies.