On Thursday October 29, 2015 at approximately 2:30 pm, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team was called out for an injured 53 year old female horseback rider who had fallen approximately 60 feet down a narrow canyon. The mission was in a remote area of the Chiricahua Mountains in Keating Canyon south of San Simon.
It was reported that the female had a serious head injury and was in and out of consciousness.
San Simon Fire and Portal Rescue responded to assist. Multiple helicopters were called to assist but due to a severe storm between Tucson and ,none could get through the storm.
Cochise County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (CCSAR) and Portal Rescue personnel began the 5-6 mile hike to get to the patient, when AZDPS Tucson Ranger reported that they were inbound and needed to be directed to the area.
The DPS Ranger located the woman, who was with her husband and a San Simon Firefighter. The helicopter was able to land just above where the woman was located and a Paramedic hiked down to her, assessed her injuries, and began treatment.
Once a CCSAR Coordinator arrived on horseback, the type of equipment to do the rescue was determined and the Tucson Ranger flew back to the command post, retrieved the gear and 2 more CCSAR volunteers and flew them up to the scene.
A rope system was setup and the woman was raised out of the canyon. She was then flown to the command post and care was transferred to Health Care Innovations Ambulance and Arizona Lifeline Medical helicopter. The woman was loaded into the helicopter for transport to University Medical Center but right after take off the helicopter encountered a severe storm and had to return. The woman was transferred to the HCI ambulance and was transported with the Az Lifeline crew to UMC.
Both helicopters had to stay at the command post until 11:00 pm when the storm cleared enough for them to get out. As they were leaving it began to snow. All helicopters and personnel returned safely to the bases.