Near Drowning on Poudre - Middle Narrows - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-14-2005   #1
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 18
Near Drowning on Poudre - Middle Narrows

Please post details of Saturday afternoon incident. My understanding is the kayaker is OK, thanks to quick-thinking onlookers. Posting as much detail as possible will help others in the kayak community. Thanks.

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Old 05-14-2005   #2
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 305
made the news

This was on the news tonight, they said the boater was with friends, and was under water for at least 5min. and was alive thanks to CPR/Rescue Breathing when EMS showed up and evac'd him.

No other details.
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Old 05-15-2005   #3
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Golden, Colorado
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Update from KCNC:

I hope he's ok....
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Old 05-15-2005   #4
Charc in = charc out
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Seattle, Washington
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My perspective from the front of the group ...

Our large group (9 paddlers in all) was running our second lap on upper/middle/lower narrows. We took forever in upper as most of the group was engaged in removing a huge log from the right side of Supercollider. This detail may sound ancillary to the story, but I believe it ended up playing a big part in the outcome of it.

After removing the log, we continued down through the rest of upper & into middle with a much quicker pace. Just above "Swinging Bridge" or "Green Bridge" rapid, we came up on 2 separate groups of 2 paddlers. A member of one of the groups happened to be a friend of ours who was showing his friend down middle. Though we didn't stop our parade of paddlers to chat, the 2 peeled out in the middle of our group to join us in running the boof line in the right slot of Swinging Bridge. Eddy space is limited through here, & with such a large group, I only paused long enough to watch as 4 paddlers made it through the slot successfully -- the last of whom was one of the new "guests".

From here, you typically move left & head toward a sweet boof along the river left bank. Just upstream of the river left boof is a large flat-faced boulder in the center of the river -- this is where the incident took place (unbeknownst to us in the front of the pack). I proceded through the boof line & looked back upstream as several paddlers made it through with no problems. Just downstream is a wave train flanked by two large eddies. This is where 2 people from our group, a straggler from a separate downstream group, & I convened. We noticed a break in the parade & then saw throwbags flying upstream. We got out & ran alongside the road to find that the rest of our group along with the other "guest" & both of the other group of 2 were pulling the second "guest" up onto a river-right pile of wet boulders. They began CPR & rescue breathing immediately after removing the victim's PFD & helmet.

A vehicle was flagged-down immediately & instructed to call 911 from Mishawaka. From river-left it was unclear whether the victim was breathing. Regardless, he had to be moved across the river to the road, but the bridge for which the rapid was named was gated & protected by two burley locks. Another vehicle was flagged down & this one happened to have bolt cutters & a cordless sawz-all. We put them to work cutting through the gate on the bridge. This vehicle also had a small ladder that worked perfectly as a makeshift backboard. Around this time the brother of one of our group members happened to be cruising the canyon & stopped to help. He offered a big foam pad & a sleeping bag.

We loaded the victim, who was breathing but unresponsive, onto the "backboard" & carried him out of the river, up into the woods, & across the bridge. Since by the time we'd gotten him to the road, emergency response had not arrived, we loaded him into the back of the brother's Pathfinder & sped him down the canyon with a lead car. We flagged down emergency response as they approached. The victim was then loaded into an ambulance which in turn met a chopper in Poudre Park. As of tonight, the victim is recovering in PVH & is reportedly doing well.

In my mind, several things were critical in saving this guy's life: (1.) Timing. The victim was recovered & resucitated quickly by the members of our group who were onsite; (2.)Teamwork. As big as our rescue team became, every single person played a crucial role or duty in reviving & evacuating the victim. There was some heroic shit that took place to get the victim unpinned & out of the river, & the CPR & rescue breathing shifts that revived him & kept him alive. Small things like having enough people to carry his 250 pounds up & out became big things. And the fact that decisions were made without deliberation or chaos & panic was very important; (3.) Luck. Because we took so long through upper, our group met their group at a very fortunate time. What are the odds that we'd be able to immediately flag down a truck that had bolt cutters, a sawz-all, & a "backboard"? The brother that offered the foam pad, a sleeping bag to keep the victim warm, & a surrogate emergency vehicle ... The straggler from the downstream group who was in the eddy with me happened to be an MD. He rushed back upstream with his boat & was able to assist with resucitation. The victim was very lucky; (4.) Emergency response. Though they hadn't arrived by the time we got the victim to the road, they were surprisingly fast given how busy the canyon was Saturday.

I'm sure the guys who witnessed the actual pin have more details as to how the pin occurred & how they got the victim out of it. I was at the front of the pack & came late to assist, so above is all I can really tell you.

There are many lessons to be learned from this situation, not the least of which is LEARN CPR & RESCUE BREATHING. Learn swiftwater rescue. Those skills absolutely saved this dude's life.

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Old 05-15-2005   #5
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Castle Rock, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Just wanted to say good job to all involved in the rescue, it seems we don’t hear enough about these success stories so I just wanted to jump on here and say great work.
Patrick Phinney
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Old 05-15-2005   #6
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Todd's summation of the incident is right on. One thing I’d like to emphasize and drive home (the news report got it wrong) is that there was no professional EMS on site that resuscitated the victim but it was done by fellow boaters. If we had waited for EMS to arrive he would have died. It sounds strange hearing that because he did die. He was dead, no pulse, no breathing, dark blue for what seemed like an eternity but in actuality was a mere couple of minutes. He died and CPR brought him back. The stars aligned in many ways for this man to live yesterday but if CPR wasn’t a part of this story it would have ended on a very somber note.

I know a lot of us have had a class or two but perhaps not in the last few years. I for one have slacked. And you say, yeah I know dude.. it's easy, I'll remember... pump on the chest, clear the passage way, cock the head back and then a couple of breaths in the mouth, rinse repeat.. but it's not easy, and you won't remember. Especailly if it's your best friend that your pumping on...or your girlfriend/wife. When an event unrolls on you as it did us yesterday, things get really emotioanl and crazy. Having a recent CPR course might just be what you need to seperate yourself from the emotional situation and get business done.

Thanks everyone who participated in the effort yesterday, you guys made me proud, and thanks to everyone who knows how important CPR is to this community. -trev
"I would drag my balls across broken glass just to hear her fart into a walkie talkie" -Jay Drury
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Old 05-15-2005   #7
Ft Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1977
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Thank's for the great post Todd. This was an outstanding effort by all concerned. The actions of the boaters around Ryan, without a doubt, saved his life. Ryan's family is very thankful that such a top group of boaters surrounded Ryan yesterday. They would very much like to get in touch with the people that helped him. Pease forward name and contact information to me at [email protected] so I can forward the information to his family.

Thanks, Marty
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Old 05-15-2005   #8
Ft Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1977
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The are a number of people asking how Ryan is doing, so here's an update...

Although he is still in critical condition he is expected to make a full recovery. There is no sign of brain injury, thanks to the quick rescue and immediate CPR response. He does have water in his lungs, which can cause complications, however, he is getting great care and is making steady progress.

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Old 05-15-2005   #9
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I'm glad he's gonna be ok....

Did anyone see the pin happen? what were the events leading up to it?

A friend of mine just got pinned on boulder creek a week ago and it scared the crap out of him (and me too!!!)... so I'm curious.

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Old 05-15-2005   #10
Golden, Colorado
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I was running sweep yesterday when the accident happened, so I saw the event unfold from the last man down perspective. After doing the boof and crossing under the bridge, I started going left to hit the boof Todd mentioned above. Ahead of me I saw a member from our group, still in his boat, working to unpin a yellow playboat. My initial thought was, "God, he's working hard to just unpin a stupid boat", but then I saw that he looked concerned beyond a simple gear rescue and figured there must be someone in the boat. Todd covered everything about the rescue, so I'll add some details about the nature of the pin.

First, it was in low water conditions, the pineview guage was a bit under 2'. The rapid was not powerful, but the pin had some bad physics going against it. The rock is relatively square shaped with a flat side facing the current almost squarely, but not quite. The corner that created the pin was the furthest most upstream corner of the rock. 80% of the water hitting the rock pillowed and went left and 20% went around the right side. The bottom of his boat was facing upstream and for most of its length it was against the upstream side of the rock. The person, however, was pushed over his back deck and wrapped around the right side of the rock around the leading corner. From that angle the person could not reach forward to pop his skirt and because he was pushed onto his back deck he wasn't able get the leverage he needed to really be able to push off the rock either.

Anyway, that was my view of the pin. I would also like to throw my 2 cents into Trevor's observations. Since I was the last person down I didn't know how long the boat had been pinned. When the victim came out of the water he was totally purple and his eyes when we started rescue breathing where dead. He was not breathing and I couldn't find a pulse. I used my knife to cut his neck gasket and I think that was a big help in getting the air to him and giving his jugular vein some freedom. We had good group help. Two people held his legs out of the water and above his body to push blood to the head. Two guys on each side helped roll him whenever he puked (which he did after about two minutes of rescue breathing and then almost every minute after that) to clear his airway. And we weren't completely out of the river so they also stabalized him on the rock. On the head end of the body were three people. We took turns rescue breathing, holding his head while thrusting the jaw forward to clear the airway, and another person pinched the nose. This created a situation where every breath into him was going straight to his lungs without obstruction and the breather could supercharge the victim. Everyone was cool and no one wigged.

We camped up there that night and talked about what we did right and whether there was anything we may have been able to do better. One, of many, things we did right was to start rescue breathing as soon as we were able to stabalize the victim. Which because of how many people were present we were able to do on a round rock barely larger than a coffee table still 15 feet from shore. The second thing was that we didn't put anyone else in danger during the rescue.

CONSTRUCTIVELY, here's where I felt we could have improved. First, too many throw ropes got tossed. When I was running back upstream I saw what looked like confetti streamers going off on New Years' Eve. The guy who was in the water pulling on the victim only needed one rope. A great way to help him after that would have been to live bait in someone else to help with the 250 lbs. of limp body. He couldn't pull the body by the head, but if you pulled it by anything else his head fell back underwater. I wanted to livebait in but all the throw ropes were tangled. That being said, everyone saw this pretty quickly and went in sans rope and helped out. But in chest to waist deep water with no good footing that guy was so heavy, I think one guy attached to a rope on shore would have provided a lot of leverage.

Second thing that might have helped was to remove his drytop even quicker. Someone did some chest compressions and I am not sure they were over his chest because of all the gear between the chest and the hands -- I actually think his hands were over his stomach. Not that it matters much because I think the rescue breathing made the recovery, but if we would have had to get serious about massaging the heart I think clearer alignment would have helped.

In conclusion, about half the people there had taken a swiftwater rescue class. It was interesting to see how much less time was wasted because most of the people had practiced, really practiced how to do that stuff already. They kind of naturally saw what needed to be done and stayed calm. No one really became THE leader because everyone just knew what to do or they told the less certain people what to do. It was awesome. Someone went for help. Someone determined an evacuation method. Many people helped stabalize and aid the victim. Someone got blankets. When people were carrying him out and they got tired, another guy quickly came to substitute that person's place carrying the ladder/stretcher. Just awesome all around teamwork by EVERY person there. I went back again later and thanked those contractors who had the Sawzall and the ladder, that was awesome luck. BTW, they only had to cut one bolt on the bridge so the property damage was kept to a minimum.

My hope goes out to Ryan that he'll have a full and speedy recovery.
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