Overworked Rescuers

Monday, July 22, 2019
By Hugh MacArthur

SPN Busy Rescuing IdiotsYou wouldn’t believe how many rescue missions the Guardia Civil have to carry out during the summer… or would you?

One typical day started at 12.30h when a call out was received on the Guardia Civil number 062. A hiker had become lost as the mist was closing in under the Pico Tuca in the Pyrenees. With little visibility the hiker lost his nerve and reached for his mobile.

The G.C. mountain-rescue service SEREIM set out from Jaca (a mountain town well worth visiting, by the way). However, already kitted up and on the way they receive a call from the lost hiker to say that he had bumped into a group of climbers who were helping him find his way down. The hiker in question was a German.

Twenty-five minutes after the first call out the Guardia Civil received another call out, this time through 112. A hiker had twisted his ankle and was unable to continue, so a GREIM team set out for the Senda Las Colladetas (Benasque) together with a medic.

When they met up with the 53-year-old victim from Madrid, accompanied by her daughter, the medic immobilised the fracture and they put her on a stretcher and marched off to meet with a waiting ambulance.

The next day at 14.05h, the G.C. number, 062 received a call to say about two hikers; one of them was confused, dazed and babbling, so the companion had opted to contact the rescue services. The Benasque team were sent out from the airbase in that town by helicopter, together with a medic.

Once they were near the the coordinates given the helicopter landed and they continued on foot. The hikers had moved since phoning in the first time but the team managed to locate them near Casa Pallás. When the medic tried to examine the victim she turned aggressive, saying that she didn’t need any help and could make her own way down.

The team tried to get her into the helicopter but with no success; she simply refused to receive medical attention. Consequently, it was decided to accompany the two hikers to their parked vehicle where they hoped they could get another chance to examine the victim.

It was not to be because she continued with her attitude so the team could only advise the victim’s companion to take her to a medical centre for a check up. The team them returned to base.

The victim was a 65-year-old Frenchwoman and her 67-year-old husband of the same nationality.

The sun came up on a new day and by 10.20h the first call had come in, this time via 112. A woman had spent the night in the Refugio de Cap de Llauset (Montanuy) after injuring her ankle the day before. She had woken with it completely swollen and incapable of walking. The Benasque team jumped into the helicopter, picked up the woman to be examined by a medic back at base.

The victim was a 47-year-old German woman.

At 16.35h the same day another call came in; a woman was unconscious with a suspected case of heat stroke and was laid up in the Refugio de la Renclusa (Benasque).

Everybody jumped back into the helicopter, together with a medic and flew to the mountain shelter. The medic carried out First Aid before loading her onto the helicopter en route for base.

The victim was a 37-year-old woman from Coslada (Madrid).

The emergency phone didn’t ring until 20.15h the next day, reporting that a hiker had had a fall whilst covering a circular hiking route known as Borda Chimenea (Ansó). This time it was the Jaca team that answered the call out.

As night was not far off, a helicopter could not be used so they went in by vehicle as far as they could and then completed the last part on foot with a stretcher

The reached the caller (the victim’s son) who was waiting for them, at approximately 21.45h and from there continued up and came across the victim, who was accompanied by her husband.

Her ankle was immobilised and she was given warm clothing and then they all set off with torches and with the stretcher over rough terrain for the parked vehicles. Once there the family decided to take her in their own vehicle to the Hospital Comarcal de Jaca. The team didn’t get back to base until one the following morning.

The victim was a 66-year-old woman from Zaragoza.

A bare 20 minutes after getting back to base there was another call from somebody who had seen lights, heard a whistle and somebody shouting for help in the Barranco de Sacs. The team was in no condition to go out again so the Benasque team was called out.

A 2-man team was despatched to abseil down the barranco from the top end. They finally came across  a man with a bandaged head and a fractured ankle around 05.30h.

The man told them that he hadn’t eaten for four days, which was how long ago he had suffered the fall. He had been following a standard route but had decided to take a short cut where no trail existed.

After the fall he bandaged his head and abandoned his backpack taking only a torch, a whistle and a quilted waistcoat. He had then made his way along the barranco dragging himself along, pulling on branches etc.

His rescuers gave him water, solid food and more warm clothing. They then contacted base and requested a medivac (medical evacuation) by helicopter at first light.

The victim was a 66-year-old German

And it goes on because there was a call out at 10.35h that same morning to rescue a 27-year-old woman from Barcelona, The next call out came out 13:00h for a 51-year-old hiker from Zaragoza with a fractured ankle who had fallen down a hillside.

Still in the same day at 17.30h they had to rescue three French tourists aged 25, 23 and 15, who had got lost near the Embalse de Santa Ana (Baldellou).

As you have probably realised, all these incidents took place in the Aragonese Pyrenees in the space of four days. when you add to that the incidents that occurred over the same period all over Spain, you get an idea what workload these rescue teams have in the summer. The other point is that most of the victims were foreigners but at least one of them was well prepared for an emergency.

Editorial note: Sorry for all the bloopers, Folks: a very long article written very late at night 😉

(News: Aragón Spain)

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