Shortly after 10:00 am this morning the Reach & Treat Team from American Medical Response (AMR) was requested to assist Multnomah County responders with an injured hiker above Elowah Falls, near Ainsworth State Park. The falls are located near Warrendale in the Columbia River Gorge, east of Portland along I-84. The height of the falls is 213 feet with a 90 degree pitch.
Reports indicate the man had been walking on a narrow trail above the falls when he fell approximately 150 feet. The last 50 feet of the fall were reportedly near-vertical, and he landed in the creek. Fortunately, nearby hikers heard the fall, and were able reach him quickly. They were able to move the fallen hiker out of the water and rendered first aid until EMS (Emergency Medical Services) responders arrived. Due to the distance of the fall the patient had potential for life-threatening injuries.
AMR Reach & Treat Paramedics Joe Rabinowitz and Brian Heinrichs hiked into the park and reached the patient at 11:53 am, shortly after emergency medical responders from Cascade Locks Fire Department.
After assessing and packaging the patient in a Stokes rescue basket, the Reach & Treat paramedics worked with personnel from Cascade Locks and Corbett fire to get him to the trail. A rope system was necessary for safety due to short vertical segments. Once out of the park, he was transported by ambulance a short distance to a helicopter landing zone at 2:11 pm. Due to the potential for severe injuries and distance from the hospital, a Life Flight Network helicopter responded and transported the patient into a Portland area hospital.
The successful rescue was due to the coordinated response by AMR's Reach & Treat Team, Cascade Locks Fire & EMS, Corbett Fire District, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, and Life Flight Network. AMR paramedics remarked that today's rescue was truly a team effort with good coordination and communication. Due to confidentiality laws, AMR cannot release patient information.
There has been an increase in AMR's Reach & Treat activations recently, and the paramedics on this call noted that there were a large number of vehicles and hikers in the Gorge. Heavy use may impact trails adversely. The Reach & Treat team would like to remind hikers to always carry the Ten Essentials (map, compass, sunglasses and sunscreen, extra food, extra water, extra clothes, headlamp or flashlight, first aid kit, fire starter, and knife) with them when they travel, and be prepared for the plan for the day to change.
AMR's Reach and Treat Team is a unique unit of AMR Paramedics and EMTs who are specially trained and equipped to reach and care for patients in wilderness, alpine, and high-angle environments. The team is based in Sandy, Oregon, and has been responding to backcountry emergencies since 1989.
American Medical Response Inc. (www.amr.net), America's leading provider of medical transportation, is locally operated in 38 states and the District of Columbia. AMR's 18,500 paramedics, EMTs and other professionals transport more than four million patients nationwide each year in critical, emergency and non-emergency situations. In Oregon and SW Washington, AMR employs more than 700 paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and support personnel in Multnomah, Clackamas, Clark, Washington and Josephine Counties.