River Incident Report #9807000016

Date of Incident: June 15, 1998
River: Green
Section of River: Junction of Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons
Location on River: Anderson Bottom (Mile 31.5)
Relative Flow: N/A
Gage Reading: N/A
Difficulty: N/A
Type of Incident: Illness
Injuries: Hereditary Potassium Deficiency
Type of Trip: Private
Type of Boat: Canoes

Description
At 22:30 the Park Service in Moab, Utah, received a 911 call from a man on high terrain above Anderson Bottom stating that his wife, 49, was very ill. Symptoms included headache, nausea, weakness, tightness of chest, tingling and numbness of hands, and the opinion that death was near. The woman was in a group canoeing on the Green River.

Two Rangers were dispatched by helicopter the following morning, arriving at Anderson Bottom at 06:20. The patient's symptoms had improved slightly during the night, but she required transportation to a hospital, which was effected by the helicopter at 06:35. She was treated and released with a diagnosis of hereditary potassium deficiency, a life threatening condition.

In Retrospect
1) Boating groups on the Green (and Colorado) River are remote from assistance, and prompt reaction to an accident or illness cannot be relied upon. The quickest possible response with a means of evacuation was by the helicopter, and eight hours elapsed before daylight when the helicopter could depart.
2) Modern communications systems are a great asset in reporting emergencies. However, they are of little use in most of Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons where the walls of the canyons block transmissions. Hiking to high terrain may improve cellular telephone transmissions.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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