Friday, July 23, 2010

Complex rescue saves man thrown from horse

Express Staff Writer

George Broadbent is loaded into an ambulance after he was rescued Tuesday. Courtesy photo

A 69-year-old Indiana man suffered serious hip and pelvis injuries after he was thrown from a horse while riding in the backcountry north of Ketchum Tuesday. But according to friends, the aftermath of the accident could have been much worse if not for the proficiency of first responders on the scene.

George Broadbent, a real estate developer from Indianapolis, was part of a pack trip consisting of seven men, most of them area residents or local homeowners. The group, which has been vacationing together for several years, was traveling on Cabin Creek Trail above Alturas Lake when the accident occurred.

Travis Reed of Sun Valley recalled the incident.

"George was following another rider through some downed debris when a branch snapped back from a downed tree into his horse's face. The horse spooked and went sideways on a very narrow trail. Then it bumped into a log and went off the left side of the hill, going crazy, jumping over logs and rocks and going downhill at full speed. George came loose and landed solidly on a boulder, coming to a dead stop. The force drove his femur up through the pelvis and shattered it."

Gimlet resident Jed Gray rushed to Broadbent to assess the damage.

"I basically talked to George for a few minutes and then removed the rock from under his hip. We determined that he would never be able to get out of there on his own or with our help. But he never lost consciousness and he maintained a steady pulse," Gray said. "The good news was that Travis had a Forest Service radio and GPS, called for help and gave them our coordinates."

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Steve Rogers, a Stanley Forest Service facilities manager who was working nearby, was the first to arrive, starting a string of close to 20 people who participated in the rescue. Personnel from the Ketchum and Sun Valley fire departments, Blaine County Search and Rescue, Stanley Ambulance Service and the Forest Service all contributed their various talents.

"The first responders were incredible. I have never seen so many incredible young people in my life and I am not given to hyperbole," Reed said. "Steve was great—well-trained, cool and professional."

Forest Service personnel cut a swath through the debris with chainsaws so rescuers could bring Broadbent out on a one-wheeled litter, earning more accolades from Broadbent's friends.

"The comfort level they maintained for him was amazing," Gray said. "Every single move was considerate, and as long as George was still he did not have a lot of pain."

"The spirit, cheerfulness and attitude every single person displayed was sensational," Reed said. "They really kept his spirits up."

Ketchum Fire Chief Mike Elle said his crew was dispatched at 12:11 p.m., reached Broadbent at 1:24 p.m., and delivered him to St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center at 3:04 p.m.

Elle praised the HAM radio operators who assisted with communication.

"Fire radios don't work well and we utilized the HAM repeater system on Galena and Baldy and it worked great," he said.

Reed said Broadbent was flown by medical jet Thursday to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Friends said he is expected to undergo surgery today.

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