Back Country Rescue

Scott Schaeffer, of Ferdinand, suffered a broken femur while snowmobiling in the Lean-To-Ridge area on New Year’s Day. Weather made the rescue of Schaeffer difficult.

Weather made the rescue of an injured man who had been recreating in the Lean-To-Ridge area northeast of Weippe a challenge New Year’s Day.

Clearwater County Sheriff’s Dispatch was contacted that afternoon with a report of a man who had broken his femur while recreating in the Lean-To-Ridge area northeast of Weippe. The original call came in at 1:41 p.m. and was referred to Idaho County Sheriff’s Office since it was in their jurisdiction, but LifeFlight was unable to fly out of Lewiston due to weather. The call was sent back to CCSO at 2:42 p.m. to send ground rescuers to the scene, according to Clearwater County Sheriff Chris Goetz.

Hillcrest Aircraft was able to have one of their pilots fly a helicopter out of Lewiston to pick up the Back Country Medics team in Orofino to go to the scene. The information was that a landing zone (LZ) was setup and the patient was there. The helicopter was configured for the mission. Clearwater Valley Hospital was contacted and with the nature of the injury, the plan was to fly the patient directly to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. The team encountered fog shortly after leaving Orofino, but found a way through it and it was clear the rest of the way to the scene.

Meanwhile, the groomer and snowmobiles were dispatched as well to assist.

When Back Country Medics found the LZ it was right at dark. They were able to land and found out that the patient, Scott Schaeffer, 51, Ferdinand, was actually about 1/2 mile away and they could not land any closer. Due to the darkness and time to get the patient to the LZ, the helicopter had to fly back to Lewiston without picking him up. Back Country EMTs on the flight, Darby Zick and Kane Steinbruecker, took their medical gear and went to the patient.

Two Bear Air out of Kalispell, MT, was contacted and had an ETA (estimated time of arrival) of 1 hour and 20 minutes. The team members cared for the patient until he was picked up by Two Bear. From there the plan was to fly him to Orofino, but Two Bear ran into fog and could not land at the airport, so flew Schaeffer to Grangeville Airport where he was taken by ground ambulance to Syringa Hospital. He is scheduled to have surgery for the broken femur Tuesday, Goetz said.

Zick and Steinbruecker hitched a ride on some snowmobiles until they met the groomer. The groomer was able to take them and all of the gear back to the trailhead near Musselshell to catch a ride back to Orofino.

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