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Friday, January 20, 2012

Rescuers Consider Amputation to Save a Trapped Victim

Imagine as a rescuer that you might actually have to cut off a victim's limb in the field to potentially save that person's life.

That was what rescuers considered on New Year's Day, as they were trying to free 15-year-old Dion Latta, who was hanging upside down in a waterfall in Wanaka's Motatapu Gorge in New Zealand. His foot was stuck and twisted in a narrow crack, and he'd been sucking air from a pocket behind the water for more than three hours when the amputation was considered. Dion was also hypothermic.

Wanaka-based search and rescue volunteers, police and others weighed all their options as they desperately tried to extricate Dion. Regarding amputation, however, the general medical opinion was that the shock involved with such a procedure under those conditions could itself prove fatal. 

Breaking the flow of the icy water with their bodies, rescuers on rappel were finally able to free Dion, and he was then short-hauled out by helicopter. Unconscious, he was stabilized on scene and flown to Dunedin Hospital. Sadly, though, after the heroic effort to save him, the boy later died.

Read the story and view photos on

Related article:

Field Limb Amputations Used as an Extrication Option in Complicated Entrapments or Disaster Events

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Now, That's a Search & Rescue Response!

White Sands NM (Wikimedia Commons/CC)
Wow, these two lost hikers sure had a lot of resources come to their aid....

From the NPS Digest:

White Sands National Monument (NM)
Newly Engaged Couple Found By Interagency Searchers

"On the afternoon of Monday, January 9th, the Park learned that two visitors who had been hiking within the dunes since noon were lost and unable to find their way out. Russell Vandameer and Karen Renshaw, both of Oklahoma, left to go hiking with their three dogs, Stitch, Suzy, and Griswald. After finding a suitably beautiful spot within the dunes, Vandemeer proposed to Renshaw. The newly engaged couple then attempted to hike back to their car, but were unable to find their way back. Rather than continue to wander becoming more lost, they contacted a cousin via cell phone and requested that help be sent.

An interagency effort was begun that involved the NPS, the Alamo West Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Army. While two Army Rescue Blackhawk helicopters were en route from Fort Bliss, approximately an hour away, Holloman Air Force base diverted an F-22 Raptor from a training mission to the search effort. The pilot of the Raptor was able to positively identify the couple with their three dogs.  Two Air Force drones were also tasked, which were able to relay specific coordinates and monitor the lost hiker's location and movement from the air while the Army helicopters were en route.

The hikers and their dogs were transported by the Army Blackhawks out of the dunes to the command post, where they were examined by NPS and Alamo West EMS for exposure to the below freezing nighttime temperatures. Renshaw accepted Vandemeer's marriage proposal. The newly engaged couple invited the Blackhawk crew to the wedding. The search effort was greatly aided by the assistance of the military aircraft, which utilized night vision and infrared equipment to safely locate the hikers after nightfall."