A Cowichan man was out for a morning walk near Horseshoe Bend Campground when he fell off a rock face Sunday. Campers are being credited with saving his life. (Google Maps)

Campers hailed heroes in rock face rescue at Vancouver Island provincial park

The campers quickly noticed the man in distress and jumped into the river to swim across.

The unrelenting barking of a dog, the availability of an off-duty nurse and some campers-turned-heroes are what Cowichan Search and Rescue search manager Tina Phillips is crediting for a successful save along the Cowichan River on Sunday.

A middle-aged Cowichan Valley man was out for a walk with his dog near the Horseshoe Bend Campground at Cowichan River Provincial Park that morning when he fell down a rock face, sustaining critical injuries.

“He was walking the trail above,” Phillips explained. “He thinks he was stung by a bee or wasp and that happened at the same time that he fell.”

The incident occurred at roughly 8 a.m.

Phillips said the dog remained up top on the trail and began to bark.

“That’s what got the attention of the campers on the other side,” she said.

The campers quickly noticed the man in distress and jumped into the river to swim across.

One of them was able to reach 9-1-1 while the others tended to the injured man. Among them was an off-duty nurse. She took control.

“He had very serious injuries and they were able to provide first aid,” Phillips said. “He had serious bleeding and fractures, I understand.”

When paramedics arrived, they were unable to get across the river so the campers stepped up again, swimming back and forth across the water with the paramedics’ supplies,

The nurse, along with help from the campers and instructions from the paramedics across the river, managed the injuries until more help could arrive.

Phillips said the call for Cowichan Search and Rescue came around 11 a.m.

“We were training at the hall, which was fortunate because we had a large crew there,” she said.

SAR crews were able to get to the scene by 11:45 a.m.

“We weren’t clear on the location and you don’t have good cell coverage from the campsite so that was a bit of frustration for the people that were down there to relay information to us,” she said.

Seeing the air ambulance circling overhead was enough for Phillips and her crew to know the injuries were indeed serious, but because they weren’t briefed before they arrived, the SAR crew didn’t know how they’d be extracting the patient. The ropes team set up at the top of the cliff in the event they’d need a rope rescue from above. The swift water team set up at the river.

The river team was able to get paramedics across the water.

Given the seriousness of the man’s injuries, it took a while to stabilize him. Once stabilized, the man was carried in a stretcher to the SAR inflatable boat where he was brought back across the river.

“It was quite an effort,” Phillips said. “When you saw the stretcher finally get lifted off the ground after, all the campers started to clap. It must have been a very traumatic experience for them, feeling very helpless while they waited. It all seems to happen in slow motion but if not for those campers, they were able to provide the first aid that he needed because he did lose quite a lot of blood, I think there may have been a different outcome.”

The patient was then taken to the ambulance before being driven to a waiting air ambulance, which had landed at a nearby farm.

He was taken to hospital where he is recovering.

Phillips said the last report she heard was that the patient “was awake, alert and in good spirits — but he does had some significant injuries.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

North Island Midget Eagles get their feet wet against Alberni Valley Bulldogs

The North Island Midget Eagles travelled down island to face off against the Bulldogs.

Council agrees to purchase emergency generator for Civic Centre

The loan will have to be repaid within five years, with no rights of renewal.

Candidates illuminate different visions of Port Alice’s future

The candidates were asked if they believed the pulp mill could run again.

VIDEO: Terry Fox Run returns to Port Hardy for the first time since 2016

All told, Port Hardy’s Terry Fox Run raised $2,200.30 with more still coming in.

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: Meet the candidates for the North Island-Powell River riding

In an effort to inform the North Island-Powell River riding constituents, we… Continue reading

‘It’s almost surreal’: B.C. fire chief, sidekick Sammy recap rescue mission in Bahamas

Chief Larry Watkinson and Sam the disaster dog spent 8 days assisting a search and rescue team

Break out the tiki torches: Open fires allowed again in B.C.’s coastal region

All open fires allowed effective at noon on Sept. 18

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Kamloops high school evacuated after receiving threat

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Woman held at gunpoint during carjacking in UBC parkade

University RCMP say the vehicle is still missing, and two suspects are at large

VIDEO: Angry B.C. cyclist starts shaming dangerous drivers online

‘You motorists deserve all your costs and misery’

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Most Read