BWCA Five medi-vacs in one week in BWCA Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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      Five medi-vacs in one week in BWCA     
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06/02/2021 09:08PM  
I follow the float plane pilot on social media and he said they've done five out of the park just in the last week. I assume one is the drowning mentioned already here, but four others, too? Had some pictures of the plane "docked" along random shorelines.
 
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tumblehome
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06/02/2021 09:25PM  
I eagerly await more information. I don’t know how he average Memorial weekend is for this sort of thing.
Tom

Just for clarification, the BWCA is not a State or Federal park.
 
06/03/2021 07:16AM  
True....sorry "wilderness" just sounds...odd in that context I guess. Either way, minor detail
 
06/03/2021 07:28AM  
cyclones30: "True....sorry "wilderness" just sounds...odd in that context I guess. Either way, minor detail "

for real. lol
 
06/03/2021 10:45AM  
cyclones30: "True....sorry "wilderness" just sounds...odd in that context I guess. Either way, minor detail "

bwca sounds good. How 'bout a link to these incidents? Any cliff jumping?
 
06/03/2021 01:04PM  
Warm weather but too cold water and nights? Maybe people are getting wet and packing light then freezing at night. Or maybe people are trying to get back out there after spending too much time at home and injuring themselves. I could see people planning a huge trip after covid and not being ready for it. Could be as simple as a twisted ankle because they lost muscle during covid, or inexperience and big dreams now that they feel they are safe to get out.
 
06/03/2021 01:11PM  
bobbernumber3: "cyclones30: "True....sorry "wilderness" just sounds...odd in that context I guess. Either way, minor detail "


bwca sounds good. How 'bout a link to these incidents? Any cliff jumping?"


Glad you brought this up. I remember hanging out at Tuscarora Outfitters a few years back when Sue (previous owner) had told me that just that day some paddlers came back from a trip and were cliff jumping on Tuscarora. One of the paddlers brothers did "one more jump" and didn't come up. A real tragedy.

I don't cliff jump anymore and I have to admit whenever those in my group do, I'm tense until it's over
 
adam
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06/03/2021 01:55PM  
Is this wild increase in medi-vacs a result of inReach units being sold and used or gross inexperience? I recall when ArkansasMan broke his ankle up on LLC many years back. He just had to tough it out back to the EP with some help getting across portages from other groups. I would expect the press of a button would have been an easy decision.

 
06/03/2021 03:19PM  
adam: "Is this wild increase in medi-vacs a result of inReach units being sold and used or gross inexperience? I recall when ArkansasMan broke his ankle up on LLC many years back. He just had to tough it out back to the EP with some help getting across portages from other groups. I would expect the press of a button would have been an easy decision.


"


This is exactly what I think it is. Seems more people use inreach now and there are also many more inexperienced people up there. When trouble strikes it is much easier to just call for help rather than deal with it. I'm sure the flights out aren't cheap though.
 
06/03/2021 05:39PM  
x2jmorris: "adam: "Is this wild increase in medi-vacs a result of inReach units being sold and used or gross inexperience? I recall when ArkansasMan broke his ankle up on LLC many years back. He just had to tough it out back to the EP with some help getting across portages from other groups. I would expect the press of a button would have been an easy decision.



"



This is exactly what I think it is. Seems more people use inreach now and there are also many more inexperienced people up there. When trouble strikes it is much easier to just call for help rather than deal with it. I'm sure the flights out aren't cheap though. "


How much is increased cell coverage? It is definitely a mixed blessing. Last year I got service for a few minutes on Knife and learned that my 20 year career was over. Talk about a trip changer...
 
billconner
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06/03/2021 06:47PM  
No specifics on the rescues other than the Trout Lake drowning?
 
06/03/2021 07:11PM  
I have no links to any stories from a news outlet. I doubt they're news-makers unless it's a big issue like a drowning or something. He just posted to his own page that fact so I figured I'd share. He also flies to scout fires and whatnot when needed. (like recently)
 
R1verrunner
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06/04/2021 05:31AM  
Stuff happens the more people out and about the more stuff happens.

Having been rescued once once not the BWCA due to a unknow allergic reaction to DEET.

Used it without trouble for many years.

Woke up in the hospital 8 hours later

Having been part of several in my career as a LEO.

Stuff does just happen.

Even if one takes all the precautions.

Dam heart attack, dam stroke, dam slipped on a rock broken leg, dam axe hit a knot cut leg, dam lighting strike.

There are a lot of perfect people who say never happen to me.

There suddenly Dam you fill in the blank.

Are some cause by stupidity yes.

But some are just Dam it happened.

Be very thankful we live in a country that we have dedicated SAR folks.

When it happens.

I know I was even though I don't remember any of it.

 
TipsyPaddler
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06/04/2021 06:30AM  
x2jmorris: "adam: "Is this wild increase in medi-vacs a result of inReach units being sold and used or gross inexperience? I recall when ArkansasMan broke his ankle up on LLC many years back. He just had to tough it out back to the EP with some help getting across portages from other groups. I would expect the press of a button would have been an easy decision.



"
…I'm sure the flights out aren't cheap though. "


I had to have my son evacuated by the US Forest Service floatplane a few summers ago. There was no charge for the plane flight. I was charged for the ambulance ride from the float plane landing on Devil’s Track Lake to the Grand Marais Hospital Emergency Room. And, of course, a bill from the ER. All very reasonable charges I felt considering the resources it took and the nature of the medical emergency.

I never had a moments regret about hitting the SOS button on the InReach that day.
 
missmolly
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06/04/2021 06:30AM  
RiverRunner makes some good points: Poop happens.
 
06/04/2021 01:21PM  
In case anyone is curious about those awesome Beaver aircraft and wants to learn bit more, this is a great video. Ely Seaplane Base The video is a few years old, but I notice the pilot mentioning doing about 20 medivacs per year, so 5 in a week is a bit above average. The FS may have to trade up to a turbo-twin Otter on floats so they can fly several out at a time!

I would be fascinated to know what percentage of groups entering the BWCA has some form of satellite communication. I am sure it it growing (I just got my first 5 years ago), but also suspect it is still a minority of groups - maybe 20%? - that's just my guess with no data at all. Also suspect increasing cell coverage is part too. I suspect these and possibly other factors are leading to the increase - on top of the steady base of rescues from experienced, well equipped folks who just meet bad luck as Riverrunner points out.

 
06/04/2021 08:43PM  
Jaywalker: "The FS may have to trade up to a turbo-twin Otter on floats so they can fly several out at a time!"

Well sure, but you lose the shorter takeoff distance of the Beaver then!
 
06/19/2021 12:51AM  
Last Friday June 11, we were sitting on the patio at Gunflint Lodge when a FS plane landed just off the dock. The Gunflint FD Ambulance pulled up and picked up a guy to take to the hospital. I don't know any details.
 
Stumpy
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06/19/2021 02:16AM  
OneMatch: "bobbernumber3: "cyclones30: "True....sorry "wilderness" just sounds...odd in that context I guess. Either way, minor detail "



bwca sounds good. How 'bout a link to these incidents? Any cliff jumping?"



Glad you brought this up. I remember hanging out at Tuscarora Outfitters a few years back when Sue (previous owner) had told me that just that day some paddlers came back from a trip and were cliff jumping on Tuscarora. One of the paddlers brothers did "one more jump" and didn't come up. A real tragedy.


I don't cliff jump anymore and I have to admit whenever those in my group do, I'm tense until it's over"


Same here
 
06/19/2021 05:39PM  
missmolly: "RiverRunner makes some good points: Poop happens. "

All accidents have a root cause. 90% are caused by the action of people. 10% are equipment failure. An accident never "Just happens". Spent many years investigating industrial accidents for major corporations.
 
billconner
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06/19/2021 06:49PM  
Does that include a tree falling on a tent in a storm and killing someone? And strokes and heart attacks? Unusual weather? A trip and fall while portaging? I guess those are caused by the victims action of going to the BWCAW.
 
SummerSkin
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06/20/2021 12:48PM  
billconner: "Does that include a tree falling on a tent in a storm and killing someone? And strokes and heart attacks? Unusual weather? A trip and fall while portaging? I guess those are caused by the victims action of going to the BWCAW."
I wouldn’t really consider strokes and heart attacks “accidents” in the vein that they’re being discussed here. I think what he is pointing out is the fact that many “accidents” can be avoided by proper preparation and safety and the minimization of risk. For example, looking up and around for potential widowmakers before setting up camp *might* avoid the falling tree on the tent. Of course sometimes it simply can’t be avoided, and no one is suggesting it always can. The point is, an ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure.
 
billconner
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06/20/2021 06:23PM  
It may be industrial accidents,where there are incentives to place fault, and leisure activity accidents, where there is no reason to find fault in a wilderness setting. Or maybe just that not all medivacs are a result of an accident.
 
Springer2
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06/20/2021 07:07PM  
I wonder if any of these were heat-related health emergencies. We were in the BW 6/1-6/8 and it was brutally hot most of the time--over 90 most days. Easy to get dehydrated out in the sun and wind all day. We saw some very hot paddlers and many had to paddle a lot further than they planned because so many of the campsites on Basswood were occupied.
 
tumblehome
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06/20/2021 09:48PM  
Springer2: "I wonder if any of these were heat-related health emergencies. We were in the BW 6/1-6/8 and it was brutally hot most of the time--over 90 most days. Easy to get dehydrated out in the sun and wind all day. We saw some very hot paddlers and many had to paddle a lot further than they planned because so many of the campsites on Basswood were occupied."

Everything in the quoted post would be an avoidable situation. Most accidents in the BWCA are caused by:

Poor planning
Ignorance
Carelessness
Fatigue

Even a slip and fall has a root cause. Most accidents are explainable and have a means of avoidance.
Tom
 
billconner
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06/21/2021 03:09PM  
I just don't like blaming the victim. And is it always the victim's fault for not knowing the right way or proper precautions? When you say they could have avoided it, many simply cannot. People will misread map, be distracted by an animal, underestimate the unexpected microburst,and many other things and it's not necessarily their fault.
 
andym
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06/21/2021 03:52PM  
Back to cost... this is an interesting article from the San Francisco Chronicle about the cost associated with rescuing a kayaker who was enroute from California to Hawaii, off the California coast. While this is a noteworthy case because of his goal, as the article points out, the Coast Guard does all sorts of rescues every day.
 
ockycamper
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06/21/2021 04:39PM  
Just finished up a Wilderness Medical First Aide training course. Much of the information is on triage and making the decision "say and play or exfil". Technology like Spot (which has been around a long time) and Inreach give first aid providers that option of getting the injured guy out. "Just tuff it out" should not be the answer with broken bones, head injuries, etc.
 
06/21/2021 05:29PM  
billconner: "I just don't like blaming the victim. And is it always the victim's fault for not knowing the right way or proper precautions? When you say they could have avoided it, many simply cannot. People will misread map, be distracted by an animal, underestimate the unexpected microburst,and many other things and it's not necessarily their fault. "

You want to identify root cause to avoid recurrence, not to blame.

Misread map - need training on map reading
Distracted by - attention to task, training
Unexpected event - awareness of hazards, training

Almost all accidents can be avoided.
 
tumblehome
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06/21/2021 05:51PM  
billconner: "I just don't like blaming the victim. And is it always the victim's fault for not knowing the right way or proper precautions? "

I don't see the word blame and fault as being the same.
Unfortunately, the industrial company I work for has several safety Nazis AKA 'safety team' whose primary purpose it to keep workers from getting hurt on the job. It saves our company hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in medical costs and we are also eligible for large Federal jobs if we keep our injuries below a threshold.

OK, with that. While I strongly dislike our 'safety team', I have learned that nearly all injuries are avoidable. And we are at fault for almost all injuries. It comes down to awareness, training, and proper work wear.

Looking at BWCA injuries, they are mostly avoidable. If a person gets lost because they can't read a map, it really is their fault even if they are a super nice person. Even a slip on a portage is the fault of the person who slipped.

Improper footwear
complacency
distraction.

Tom
 
billconner
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06/22/2021 05:45AM  
So what's the plan to avoid and prevent all accidents in the BWCAW? Seems like a worthy effort.
 
R1verrunner
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06/22/2021 05:45AM  
Human caused accidents are easy to avoid.

Simply by not doing what cause the accident.

I am glad there are perfect people out there.

They can show us all the way to do something.

 
PeaceFrog
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06/22/2021 08:10AM  
Thank you to all the First Responders who are there when the call comes in.
 
niem0128
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06/22/2021 02:20PM  
mooseplums: "Last Friday June 11, we were sitting on the patio at Gunflint Lodge when a FS plane landed just off the dock. The Gunflint FD Ambulance pulled up and picked up a guy to take to the hospital. I don't know any details.
"


Our group was coming out of Larch Creek that day. We were told by a group going the other direction that we may pass a group of 60-something year-old men who were helping one of their group with a "blown-out" hip... carrying him across portages and paddling, etc. No idea how it happened, and we never actually saw that group. We assume they must have stopped at a campsite between Clove and Larch Lake.

While a couple members of our group were waiting for us to get the other cars from our outfitter, the rescue services were trying to figure out a way to get him out. They were hoping they could get him out without a plane, but if you know the Larch Creek entry point with around a dozen beaver dams, that seemed impossible to us. It sounds like they wound up flying him to the Gunflint Lodge.
 
06/22/2021 03:12PM  
All this talk about First Responders- I know many volunteer- Someone please give a donation site we can help out. Just think if just from this site we all donated $10.00. It would add up. Good insurance policy also.
I know Gunflint has a site I donated in the past-but don't have that address now or web site?
 
06/23/2021 07:27PM  
bobbernumber3: "billconner: "I just don't like blaming the victim. And is it always the victim's fault for not knowing the right way or proper precautions? When you say they could have avoided it, many simply cannot. People will misread map, be distracted by an animal, underestimate the unexpected microburst,and many other things and it's not necessarily their fault. "


You want to identify root cause to avoid recurrence, not to blame.


Misread map - need training on map reading
Distracted by - attention to task, training
Unexpected event - awareness of hazards, training


Almost all accidents can be avoided."


Yes but the influx of new people venturing into our wilderness are very ill prepared it would seem. I almost feel like the USFS should issue warnings about the potential danger to either force people to prepare better or scare them off. Either way is fine with me.
 
PaddlinMadeline
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06/23/2021 10:19PM  
It is truly “Our Wilderness”. So grateful for that. Life changing experience for lots of people.
 
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