Letter to the Editor: Giving thanks for my rescue at Snow Canyon State Park

Rescue operation at Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, Oct. 15, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, St. George News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR — This is an open letter to the adventure team and great staff at Red Mountain Resort, the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team, the EMTs and the ER and medical floor staff of Dixie Regional Medical Center — and anyone else who was involved in my fall at Snow Canyon State Park and subsequent transport and treatment on Oct. 15.

I came to visit Utah and the St George area for the first time on Oct. 12. I have always loved red rock and hiking. In the past couple of years I have gone from a very out of shape corporate type to someone who can hold her own in strength and endurance. I am 62 years old and pride myself on overcoming obesity, fear of exercise and general laziness.

When we went to Zion National Park, I did the first two of three hikes and got very short of breath. In addition, something was making my eyes water and impacting my sinuses. Whatever blooms in the desert, doesn’t in Houston. After struggling with the first two hikes and getting short of breath, I attributed it to altitude, something that I have very little experience with. I took some allergy meds and felt better the next morning.

On Thursday we went on the lava tube hike in Snow Canyon. For some reason, I was not only short of breath but also shaky and made a few missteps, sliding but not falling on the way to the cave entrances. On the way down into the cave entrance, under supervision of our great guides, I missed a rock and turned my foot over onto a jagged surface.

At the suggestion of the leader, I sat out the hike into the tube and waited for people who went in. During that time, I tried to put weight on my left foot and found I was unable to do so. I tried to talk the Red Mountain Resort guide into letting me crawl out, thinking I could at least get to the surface but his good sense prevailed. He convinced me that even though I could do more damage to myself or fall backwards, I could potentially knock him into the jagged rocks with my unsteadiness. He climbed out and called for help.

Shortly thereafter, the search and rescue guys came down, did my vitals and made sure I was stable for transport. I still didn’t get what that meant until they brought down a metal stretcher, tied me in and then swung me out from the jagged edge and pulled me up. There were people on the ends of the rope who had gathered, and they included EMTs and other professionals. I was then loaded onto a contraption that was more like a titanium wheelbarrow with one big wheel and carried and rolled up the canyon for a couple miles to a waiting ambulance.

The EMTs there brought me to Dixie regional where I was treated in the ER for what I now was told was a Lisfranc fracture of four of the top bones in my foot. In their work-up, they took blood and shortly thereafter, a hospitalist physician visited me to tell me that they were admitting me because I had dangerous levels of potassium in my system and could very well have died from heart failure.

My fall, and rescue, mortifying and embarrassing at the time, probably saved me from a far worse fate.

Two weeks later, I am awaiting surgery since they cannot put me under anesthesia unless the potassium issue is resolved, thanking God and the teams mentioned above. I am stubborn, proud of being in shape these days and have a hard time facing the fact that it wasn’t advisable to continue the exertion and pace.

Lessons learned:

  • If your body feels off, don’t minimize the feelings, or decide they are just “fatigue” or “altitude.”
  • If you have never been short of breath and suddenly become that way, something may be wrong.
  • Listen to the professionals.

Thanks again to all, and God bless.

Submitted by DIANE GALLO, Houston, Texas.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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