Search and Rescue Team Operation: Aid to injured camper at Big McGee Lake
On the evening of Tuesday, August 5th, 2014, at approximately 6:00pm, Mono County Sheriff’s Dispatch received a call from the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) stating they had received a distress signal from a SPOT device near Big McGee Lake.
A 68-year-old man was camping with two of his friends at Big McGee Lake. He was walking on a large granite rock when he began to lose his footing. He was unable to catch his fall and slipped down the rock, striking his right knee on the rocks below. He sustained significant lacerations to his right knee, with extensive bleeding. His friends were able to come to his aid and sent out a distress signal with a SPOT beacon. The signal was relayed to a staff member at Cal OES. Upon confirmation of the location, the Mono County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SAR) team was called to aid the injured camper.
Ten search and rescue team members responded and staged at McGee Creek trailhead. Ground teams hiked into the victim’s location with medical equipment. A helicopter from China Lake Naval Air Station was also able to respond. Just before midnight, the helicopter was able to land, meet the ground SAR teams and a flight medic was able to medically assess the victim. He was then flown to the Mammoth/Yosemite Airport, transferred to the Mono County Paramedics and transported to Mammoth Hospital for further treatment.
This incident is an example of some beneficial things people can do when recreating in the backcountry. Travel with a group of people, if you can, to ensure you have help if you need it. Remember having first aid supplies and a distress beacon, or others forms of communication, is crucial if you are doing activities that involve higher than normal risk. Remoteness and solitude are some of the qualities that make time in the backcountry special, but even in the best conditions, remember it could take rescuers several hours to get to you if you need help.