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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mental Health: Erasing stigma leads to new path for Victoria woman

Paula Roumeliotis struggled with bipolar disorder for 35 years before finding support

COVID-19: UVic Engineering to 3-D print 4,000 face-shields for frontline workers

Team working to ensure Island health care workers have personal protective equipment

Health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

Independent investigation praises RCMP actions in Vancouver Island suicide attempt

Man hurt in incident that took place near Nanoose Bay in September of 2019

Most Read