SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) – A La Pine man became ill while hiking the Tam McArthur Rim Trail near Broken Hand in the Three Sisters Wilderness and his condition worsened overnight, prompting a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue operation Tuesday and an AirLink flight to St. Charles Bend, officials said.
Deschutes County 911 dispatchers got a call around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday about the 38-year-old hiker who had become ill, said sheriff’s Deputy Donny Patterson, assistant SAR coordinator.
The reporting person told the dispatcher the hiker began feeling ill around 3 p.m. Monday. The party of three decided to camp near the trail overnight, to see if the man’s health would improve by morning, Patterson said.
But instead, his condition deteriorated and he was unable to stand, let alone hike back out. It also was reported the hiker was still recovering from a serious injury suffered in a crash about eight months ago.
The DCSO SAR Medical Team was contacted, Patterson said, and a medical volunteer made contact by phone. It was determined the man would need help from a SAR team and possibly an air ambulance, Patterson said AirLink was contacted and agreed to assist, depending on flying conditions.
Shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday, a SAR page went out and a total of 14 volunteers responded. Air Link, meanwhile, asked to have two SAR members fly with them to the location to prepare the patient, if conditions favored landing.
Two SAR members went to the AirLink offices in Bend and were flown to the area, where a safe landing zone was established, Patterson said. They then hiked a short distance to the ill hiker, reaching him just before 11 a.m. They assessed his health and brought him to a landing zone to prepare him for the flight.
Meanwhile, two other SAR teams responded on foot, hiking up the Tam McArthur Trail with a wheeled litter as a backup plan.
However, favorable weather conditions meant the pan was placed in the helicopter and flown to St. Charles Bend for more treatment and a medical evaluation. The SAR volunteers stayed at the scene and helped the two other members of the hiking party back out to their vehicles at the trailhead.
Patterson said the sheriff’s office would like to thank AirLink for their help.