GLACIER, Wash. — Volunteer firefighters from Whatcom County Fire District 14 (WCFD14) and 19 (Glacier Fire & Rescue), Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and Bellingham Mountain Rescue responded to a report of an injured hiker on the Yellow Aster Butte Trail near Glacier on Monday, September 19th about 3pm.
WCFD14 Fire Chief Jerry DeBruin told Whatcom News the hiker had a broken ankle and was approximately 3 miles up a trail with an elevation gain of about 1,800 feet in the first 2 miles.
First responders were able to reach the patient about 2.5 hours after being dispatched and contacted Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) who responded to a request for helicopter transport to the hospital according to DeBruin.
The patient was carried via a wheeled litter by rescuers between 100 and 200 yards to where a landing zone was established.
According to a press release from the NASWI public information officer, “The SAR crew was alerted at a little before 6pm that a hoist rescue was required. The SAR crew launched at about 6:30pm after getting more refined information from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and fire rescue crews that had hiked in to the patient. When they arrived at the location, they found the winds and elevation were too dangerous for a hoist rescue, so they landed approximately 60 yards upslope on the crest of a ridge.”
The hiker was transported by the helicopter to PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center, arriving just before 7:30pm.
“This saved the patient from a 2.5-mile trip in our wheeled litter down the trail in the dark, and a very long, bumpy transport in a ground ambulance,” according to a WCFD14 social media post.
DeBruin said the volunteer rescuers got back to the station about 10pm after hiking back down the trail.