Submitted by Orcas Island Fire and Rescue.
Orcas Island Fire and Rescue received a report of a traumatic injury on Obstruction Island with CPR in progress on the evening of July 4.
The patient had fallen approximately 100 feet down a steep embankment, landing on a rocky coastline.
The initial response was complicated as the beach was not accessible by vehicles and required a marine response from the OIFR Marine Response and Transport (MRAT) team. Lieutenant 26, Geoff Nelson, responded in his personal boat to transport Battalion Chief Nick Kiniski and other OIFR members to the remote beach location.
“It is difficult to describe the challenges this situation presented to the OIFR responders,” said Chief Scott Williams.
Occupants of Obstruction Island had performed CPR on the patient for an extended period of time. OIFR members searched for a critically injured patient on the rocky beach, on a remote island, in the dark.
Lack of proper lighting, poor radio reception communications, spotty cell phone communications, changing tides, obtaining necessary medical equipment, and safety for the patient were some of the challenging factors in coordinating this rescue.
The only safe method of extricating the patient from the scene was to enlist the aid of the U.S. Coast Guard. A USCG pilot maneuvered helicopter into position near the patient and a rescue swimmer was lowered along with a basket to transfer the patient and paramedic.
“We are fortunate to have the (Coast Guard) and (Navy) nearby to protect and provide emergency service to our islands,” said Williams.
The combined efforts of residents on Obstruction Island who initially provided life-saving CPR, dispatchers, OIFR personnel, the online medical direction from the county’s emergency physician and medical director and the coast guard crew all helped to facilitate the critical emergency medical procedures needed to keep the patient in a stable but critical condition.
“I am extremely proud of the of the Orcas Island Fire and Rescue responders who mobilized and took part in this incident,” Williams said.