Monday, July 6, 2020


Moab, UT

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    Opinion: Castle Valley first responders called to action

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    The Castle Valley Emergency Medical Responders were called out twice during the past several days on recreation related accidents as the tourist season begins to ramp up, which is the result of the easing of restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    A group of people from the Salt Lake City area rented several rooms from the Sorrel River Ranch Resort last Friday, May 8 and they also had permission to land their helicopter on the large lawn area not far from their rooms. They were spending the week skydiving out of the helicopter back to where they were lodging at the ranch. On this particular day one of the men bailed from the helicopter like he has done on the thousands of other jumps he has made but the chute didn’t open as expected. By the time he opened the reserve chute he either was coming in too fast or the chute didn’t open in time to slow his speed and he landed hard on the roof of the building where he was staying.

    Grand County Emergency Medical Service along with the Castle Valley First Responders were paged out to the scene of the accident to tend to the serious injuries of the skydiver who was laying on the roof of the building. There was a conversation about using a ladder truck from the Moab Fire Department but the resort happened to be renting a large forklift with a platform attached, which was being used on the JJ Mercantile building, which is currently under construction on the resort property. The resort personnel were well organized with people to guide the emergency responders to the location. Other staff members led the responders to an upstairs window, which had been removed to gain access to the roof where the patient was located.

    After tending to his immediate medical needs the patient was moved to the platform on a backboard and lowered to the waiting ambulance. He was transported to Moab Regional Hospital for further treatment for serious injuries to his legs and back.

    The second incident involved a 45-year-old Montana woman who was hiking near the base of Castle Rock when she fell and sustained head injuries. She said that the gusting winds blew a contact from her eye, which resulted in her slipping and falling several feet and hitting her head on a rock. A Grand County Sheriff’s deputy was the first on the scene followed by the Castle Valley first responders. Grand County EMS personnel were transported closer to the victim by a BLM park ranger and they were soon on the scene where they determined, upon her request, that she could navigate the trail with assistance back to her vehicle at the campsite.

    The Grand County Search and Rescue team directed the operation and assisted the woman down the trail. Classic Air medical helicopter was returning to Moab and was diverted to the area but determined that there was not a good landing spot close by. A helicopter from the Utah Department of Transportation also responded from a nearby location but landed long enough to tell the SAR personnel that they were diverted to Emery County where a report of a flash flood in Little Wild Horse Canyon killed two children.

    Early Friday morning, May 8, it became apparent that Castle Valley didn’t have telephone or Internet service. Local patrons were able to call within the valley but calls outside the valley, including 911 calls, just got a busy signal. As a standard operating procedure, the Castle Valley Fire Department set up a command center at the town hall in the advent that an emergency might occur during the phone outage and help couldn’t be obtained by telephone.

    A Frontier Communications technician responded to Castle Valley but didn’t find a problem with the phone system in the valley. He then traveled to Bald Mesa on the La Sal Mountain where the utility’s equipment is also located and repaired the problem there. Phone service was restored by about 11 a.m. that morning. A Castleton resident, who operates his business from home, was using the computer when the system failed at 7:30 a.m. Others in the valley rely on the service to operate their home businesses, as well.

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