PENTICTON - Rescue and first response teams involved in a critical incident last summer on Apex Mountain got together recently to acknowledge the successful collaborative effort that saved the life of a young woman.
The Kelowna Genera Hospital Foundation organized the gathering at Eclipse Helicopters in Penticton on March 16, according to a media release.
The rescue teams, paramedics and hospital personnel all worked together in a time-sensitive effort to save the life of 15-year-old Marissa, who was with a group of friends trail riding on Apex Mountain on July 23 near Apex Mountain Ski Resort when she became impaled by a tree branch.
A branch kicked up by the ATV pierced the machine’s fender and ran through Marissa’s abdomen, impaling her to the machine, the release says. The branch continued through her armpit, narrowly missing her heart.
Multiple resources came to Marissa’s rescue in a coordinated and professional effort that defied odds for success.
A member of Marissa’s group had to ride down the mountain to find cell service and make the initial call for help, initiating the B.C. Ambulance’s regional communications office in Kamloops, the release says. Dispatch then called upon the services of Penticton Search and Rescue and emergency paramedics from B.C. Ambulance and B.C. Air Ambulance.
A complicated, five-hour rescue mission involving Eclipse Helicopters and Penticton search and rescue’s helicopter evacuation team eventually got Marissa stabilized and delivered to hospital.
It took two hours for Penticton’s rescue team to access the accident site and another two hours to stabilize Marissa and cut away the tree limb, following which she was long-lined on a stretcher to a staging area where paramedics treated her before further air transport to Kelowna General Hospital.
Penticton Search and Rescue spokesperson Randy Brown said the rescue effort was so complex, critical and time sensitive, it challenged even the most seasoned of emergency response personnel.
“Each of these special human links were critical in saving Marissa’s life," Kelowna General Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Mike Ertel said in the release. "What seemed like an overwhelming Search and Medical Rescue mission at the time has over the past nine months had a profound effect on everyone, from a young woman whose life has been saved to the impact it has had on First Responders."
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