After a nearly seven-hour rescue operation Sunday, a Blaine County woman has been hospitalized with a dislocated knee due to a fall while hiking with her husband on Kelly Mountain west of Hailey.
Wood River Assistant Fire Chief Craig Aberbach said that around 1:30 p.m., the department received a call from the victim’s husband regarding his injured, 62-year-old wife. Initial search-and-rescue responders were able to locate the victim’s husband because he had brought a signal mirror on the hike.
Aberbach said rescuers traversed nearly 1.5 miles up 1,500 vertical feet to reach the victim.
“There isn’t any cell service out there, and the husband had to leave his wife to find a spot on the mountain where he could get service,” he said.
Once there, Aberbach said, rescue personnel determined that more people would be needed to extricate the injured woman, resulting in the involvement of 25 responders from the valley, including three crew members from St. Luke’s Air Ambulance. He said four helicopter trips were needed to transport gear and responders to a staging area near the scene.
Aberbach said that due to unstable terrain, rescue crews were forced to slowly lower the injured woman from a spot near the top of the mountain to an ambulance landing zone 800 vertical feet down. From there, Aberbach said, the victim was flown to St. Luke’s Wood River for treatment around 8 p.m.
The victim’s name could not be released due to federal HIPAA restrictions on medical records, he said.
With hiking season in full swing, he said, it’s important to take every safety precaution necessary to ensure that a day exploring the outdoors doesn’t end in tragedy.
Aberbach said that before setting out on a trail, hikers should pack a GPS emergency signal transponder or signal mirror and clothing for cold weather, and should notify friends and family of where they’re going and when they’re expected to return.
In addition, hikers should leave behind a specific description of what they’re wearing in case search-and-rescue crews are forced to take to the air to find a stranded outdoor enthusiast.