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

Yellow Point Ecological Society releases video advocating for the protection of private forests

The group is concerned about the loss of forests in the Yellow Point area

LSS improv program gives students an opportunity to be themselves and entertain others

The Ladysmith Secondary School improv program has planned two weeks of shows for the community

New Sonic the Hedgehog trailer shows off Ladysmith and new character animation

At long last, Sonic the Hedgehog will hit theatres on February 14

Diamond District woman warns against the use of rat poison

At some point between breakfast and lunch Martin had suddenly collapsed and died

Calling all believers: Chemainus Theatre Festival runs Miracle on 34th Street

Opening night is Friday, November 15, and closing is December 29

VIDEO: B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

Seguin lifts surging Stars to 4-2 win over Canucks

Dallas is 6-0-1 in last seven outings

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Batten down the hatches: Wet and windy weekend on the way for coastal B.C.

Environment Canada issues special weather warning for Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

Tolko shuts B.C. divisions for two weeks over holidays

Head office to close from Dec. 23-27; two weeks’ downtime runs Dec. 21-Jan. 6

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

Port Moody mayor says stayed sex assault charge related to ‘awkward date’

Rob Vagramov said charge was related to a string of dates in 2015

UBC conference draws fire over speaker from Chinese tech company blacklisted in U.S.

The company that has been blacklisted by the U.S. over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority

Most Read