A California Highway Patrol officer survived a critical wound from a helicopter blade, thanks to an injured hiker who provided timely trauma care to the officer.
The incident began after the officer arrived at a rugged location in the Shasta Trinity Forest near Big Bear Lake to transport a wounded doctor who had broken his leg while hiking.
After arriving at the location via helicopter to transport Dr. Jeremy Kilburn, who had broken his leg and injured his ankle while hiking, Officer Tony Stanley was struck in the head by the helicopter's main rotor blade. Kilburn, a U.S. Air Force critical care pulmonologist, was hiking in the area with several others.
Officer Brian Henderson, the helicopter pilot, helped the injured Kilburn roll down a hill to treat Officer Stanley, a tactical flight officer and paramedic. Stanley is 40.
Kilburn and the other hikers quickly worked together to save the severely injured officer's life, according to a C.H.P. release.
Kilburn, of Las Vegas, had served as a trauma surgeon in Afghanistan. Elizabeth Fitch and Bryce Harbert had been hiking with a youth group from the Bay Area when they encountered the injured Kilburn. Harbert assisted in providing necessary medical aid to Officer Stanley, and Dan Grasso, Kilburn's hiker friend, helped him down to Officer Stanley's position so he could render aid.
"Thanks to the assistance they provided, Tony is alive today," said C.H.P. Commissioner Joe Farrow. "I cannot even imagine the pain Dr. Kilburn was in, unable to walk, when he rolled down the hill to the location of our injured officer. Without regard to his own injuries and pain, Dr. Kilburn performed critical life-saving steps, ultimately saving the life of our officer."
Officer Henderson led the group and provided Kilburn with the necessary medical equipment and reconfigured the aircraft.
Fitch helped load Officer Stanley into the helicopter, and throughout the 41-mile flight, acted as a flight nurse, holding IV bags and applying direct pressure to control bleeding.
Officer Stanley, a 10-year veteran of the C.H.P., remains hospitalized at Mercy Medical Center in Redding.
By Paul Clinton