At 5:09 pm on September 24, Olympic National Park fisheries crew at work in the Elwha Valley notified Olympic National Park dispatch of an injured hiker. The crew was located near KrauseBottom and had met a group on a backpacking trip who reported that a member of their group was injured. A 70-year-old female from Bremerton, WA sustained an injury on the first day of their trip five days prior. After the injury, the group continued to hike almost eight miles of their planned trip over the course of several days rather than walk out or seek help. Due to the time of day the report came in, it was decided that park emergency services staff would hike in and evaluate the injured hiker the next morning.
At 10:05am on Wednesday, September 25, park staff arrived at the group’s location to conduct a medical evaluation. Olympic Mountain Rescue was on standby in case a litter carryout was necessary. However, due to the nature and severity of the injury it was determined that a litter carryout was not feasible.
A helicopter team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island was requested to perform the rescue. The helicopter landed on a gravel bar on the Elwha River and a paramedic provided medical treatment as the patient was prepared for a hoist. At 12:15 pm the patient was hoisted and transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Having an emergency plan in place and practicing it before your trip will help you and your group know what to do if someone becomes injured or lost.
Visitors are urged to plan ahead, hike smart, pack the Ten Essentials, and have an emergency plan even for a day hike. Hiking is a popular activity through the fall and visitors are reminded to be prepared for changing weather conditions that can also affect rescue efforts. Consider learning CPR and basic wilderness first aid, especially if you are planning to hike in the backcountry.
The National Park Service partners and trains with the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard to perform helicopter rescues in Olympic.
The total number of SAR incidents in Olympic National Park for 2019 is 78.
For information about planning ahead and staying safe while visiting and hiking in national parks visit https://www.nps.gov/subjects/trails/hiking-safety.htm.
For information on planning a backpacking trip in Olympic National Park check out the Wilderness Trip Planner guide at https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/wilderness-trip-planner.htm.