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Old 07-27-2010   #1
malloypc's Avatar
Albany, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 256
Rogue River TR - with rescue & evac

Returned Sunday night from another great Rogue trip that had a little more excitement than most. There were eleven of us on my neighbor Doug's permit. We got off to a late start but not far behind the other PLRG crowd (17 on Tubie's friend's permit) who had a late night at Almeda. Ryan managed to break a cataract blade in a manner I've never seen before on his fish ladder approach. I had a violent but successful run of the main falls at Rainie (4/4 now - knock wood). We passed the other group at Whiskey Creek and camped at Upper Wildcat.

Day 2 was another nice day on the river with no mishaps other than the backyard boat being rowed by Brendan Buskirk kept losing air, so his friend John had to keep pumping as we moved down the river. We camped as a pre-arranged combined group of 28 at the RR Ranch where Tubie's group was planning a layover and they were in full swing early (to quote Big Al - "you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning!"). I think we won the non-cook-off with my Penang Curry followed by Brendan & John's DO Black Forest cake.

On Day 3 morning we bid our friends farewell and left them to layover shenanigans. We all had clean runs through Mule Creek Canyon and Blossom Bar. We then christened our three formerly Blossom Bar Virgins (Katie, Jeni, and John) and headed down the Devil's Stairs.... except for Big Eddy who found the welds holding his right oar stand plate had failed. After fifteen minutes or so he came around the bend with his strap mounted oar stand which held up remarkably well. We had a leisurely float from there with lots of swimming. Saw a bear with two cubs alongside the river around Brushy Bar. We took Upper Tacoma camp as Tequila Beach (Lower Tate) was occupied.

Ryan was in the process of prepping an early dinner when a few of the group decided to head up Tate Creek to the slide rock. We hung around camp for an hour or so and were just about to re-start cooking when John came running down the trail (bad sign) and reported "Man Down! We need help! Possible spinal injury!" After confirming it wasn't one of our party (whew!), I grabbed my new Recretec guide table, Ryan grabbed his first aid kit, Buzzy and Blair got straps and we were off to the creek. Barbara/ Jeni / Katie headed to Middle Tacoma to see if the Echo group there might have a SAT phone.

Marlene met us at the bridge and directed us up the creek. Just short of getting to the slide rock, we found Doug holding Tom in place where he was found and keeping him talking. We learned that he had taken a nasty fall (20 - 30 feet), had limited feeling and no control of his lower extremities. Very soon after we arrived, some guides from Echo came up and reported that their office had been called so evacuation arrangements were in process. After comparing credentials (we were WFR, WFA, NOLS trained) and finding that Alex from Echo was EMT, he was appointed team leader. Three or four other guides were also well trained and Mike began checking vital signs, etc.

The first challenge was to get him out of the crevice he was stuck in with minimal disturbance of his spine - we used a bamboo cutting board brought by Echo to get him started and then slid him onto the guide table. The routered strap holes on the table proved to be invaluable for immobilizing Tom with straps in preparation for transport. Next began a long, careful process of finding our way down the creek with six guys holding the table and another stabilizing Tom's head. Many boulders, trees, and drops in the creek prevented walking with our patient and required shuffling him forward a couple feet at a time. There were many repetitions of Alex calling; "Is anyone not ready to shuffle one? - Shuffle one." at which point the table was moved down one person and the two on the end would scramble down to receive the next "shuffle one".

After we were about two thirds out, reinforcements arrived from other camps and some of the Echo clients joined in as dark began approaching. It took a full three hours to get Tom safely back to the main trail and headed to our camp (only a quarter mile) where the Curry County Sheriff jetboat was waiting. The medical staff on board secured Tom's head with a C-collar and slid him onto a real backboard for transport. He was then loaded onto the jetboat and off downriver in the dark to places unknown to us.

It was quite an experience being involved with a team of strangers working effectively together to aid another stranger in need. It's good to know all the aspects of training I've had only play-acting exposure to can come together in a real life scenario. We had a late dinner and were all off in a deep sleep shortly afterward - What bears?

Day 4 we awoke to the one Backyard Boat looking pretty flat. It turned out to have a cut shell that allowed the bladder to burst and fill with water. So while Brendan and Buzzy repaired the tube we leisurely loaded the boats and got a late start to the takeout. We stopped for a dip in the pool at Flora Dell - now a must stop on the river. Somewhere a little past Payton Riffle we spotted a young bear at the shore - I got him pretty confused with nose flute sounds.

At the Foster Bar takeout we learned that Tom was in Eugene and scheduled to have surgery today (Monday) for a fractured C7 vertebrae. Our hope is he recovers to boat again soon.

Another boater on the ramp had a drybox with a lid that was peeled off by a bear while it was at the Paradise dock - apparently that's a regular occurrence there these days.


PS - Here's a pretty accurate report of the incident:

PPS - Here's a not so accurate account:

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Old 07-27-2010   #2
Dipshit with the most.
carvedog's Avatar
Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,496
Strong work. Good on you.

I always wonder if all the scenario practice that I have done will kick in when needed. About time for a refresher.

Now about that avatar picture of the Cat on the rootball.

What is the story there? Do you have full size image for us to look at.

Feel free to start another thread. It caught my eye.

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Old 07-27-2010   #3
malloypc's Avatar
Albany, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 256
Just posted as My cat on the rootball story
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Old 07-27-2010   #4
Rainy Northwest, Washington
Paddling Since: 1980
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I'm curious to know the how and where of the fall. The climb up and around Tate Creek can be pretty sketch, especially relying on old ropes.
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Old 07-27-2010   #5
malloypc's Avatar
Albany, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 256
This occurred about 30 yards downstream of the slide, did not involve the rope at the rock. Tom was returning to the trail after hanging at the slide with some others in his party. For some reason he tried to find his way 20 - 30 feet up the creek bank rather than just walk down the creek. It looked like he may have stepped on a log and slipped, falling onto a couple large boulders - apparently head first. Surprisingly there was no blood nor broken bones / ribs given the drop.
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Old 07-27-2010   #6
earthNRG's Avatar
Snowmass, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 429
Sounds quite exciting! I've been interested in the Rouge for at least 15 years, but have yet to make it out there.

Originally Posted by malloypc View Post
Surprisingly there was no blood nor broken bones / ribs given the drop.
I'd consider a fractured C7 as a broken bone, since "fracture" is technical for "cracked" or "broken", and "C7" is a bone in the spine.

Here's to many more exciting trips, just without the medevac!
"A witty saying proves nothing."
- Voltaire (1694-1778)
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Old 07-29-2010   #7
North Bend, Washington
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 476
Good job on the evac! Awesome to hear your story! Can I use it when I teach my next Wilderness First Aid class?
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Old 07-29-2010   #8
malloypc's Avatar
Albany, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 256
Thanks. Please do use it.

I'm due for recertification myself and was thinking along the same lines, this will be a good real-life story to relate.
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Old 07-29-2010   #9
Wavester's Avatar
NorCal, California
Paddling Since: 91
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 330
Sounds like an awesome job by everyone involved. Hope he makes a full recovery. I have been involved in a few rescues on the river, as a firefighter/paramedic I usually end up directing the efforts and it sounds like you guys covered all the bases. River tables work well as backboards, I once used one for a guy who fell and injured his spine in the GC, fortunately he made a full recovery after we sutured head laceration.
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Old 09-16-2010   #10
South Lake Tahoe, California
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 1
I'm an old friend of Toms, and just heard of this incident. I'd like to extend my deep appreciation, and thanks to all involved in his rescue. I joined this site just to thank all of you.
Just so yall know, Tom's a great guy, class five paddler, clean and sober(but his friends don't hold that against him), fine sense of humor, etc. He's been down just about every river I can think of. He led a Grand Canyon trip a couple of years ago.
We did Hells Canyon on the Snake, and some of the Payettre a few years back. The stories I could tell.
Anyway, of all his friends down here thank all of you, and I'll buy you a beer if your ever in Tahoe.

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