Search and Rescue Volunteers Answer the Call for Trapped Hiker

Reported by: Joe Hart
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Updated: 6/25/2013 6:10 pm
With summer here a lot of folks will be heading out to enjoy the great outdoors.  But what happens if something goes wrong when you're far off the beaten path ? Luckily, there's a team of volunteers committed to helping.
Their response can be the difference between life and death, as one man found out the hard way.

His name is Steve Cohen.  He is 65 years old and he's learning to walk all over again.

Steve was hiking recently with his wife Elly on the trails above Incline Village when a 15-hundred pound boulder rolled over on top of him.

"It threw me over, I'm on the ground on my back and the rock goes thump !!  Right on my upper leg,"  Steve told News 4.

He was trapped and in pain.  His pelvis had been crushed.  He was also bleeding internally.

"It was very dire," he said.  "This was serious trouble."  

Steve's wife was able to call 9-1-1 and search and rescue teams were dispatched immediately.

More than a dozen volunteers responded, carrying equipment and supplies a mile up the hill to where Steve was trapped.

Crews worked fast to lift the boulder and airlift Steve to the hospital, after hoisting him into the sheriff's helicopter which was hovering overhead. 

It was a race against time.

"Within an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes of him placing the initial call, he was being loaded and airlifted out," said Washoe County Sheriff's Sergeant Bill Devine, who oversees the search and rescue program.   Search and Rescue is made up of about 400 volunteers,  who train for rescues like this and make themselves available around the clock.

"They're all volunteers. And the calls come in at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning." Devine told News 4.

For Steve Cohen, rehabilation from an injury like his is slow and steady.   But he knows he probably wouldn't be here if weren't for those search and rescue volunteers who make helping others their top priority,  whereever and whenever that help is needed.

"These guys clearly saved my life, and I'm very grateful," Steve said.

On a lighter note, Steve now has to decide where to put a new momento: a piece of the very rock he was trapped under, which was given to him recently by a friend.

We asked him what goes through his mind when he holds a piece of that rock that nearly claimed his life  ?   

"Grrrrrrr," he told us with teeth clenched.

We're happy to report Steve Cohen has finished up his rehab at Renown and is now back home in San Francisco.  He says he's hoping to have a full recovery and eventually be able to hit the hiking trails again.

If you're interested in volunteering with search and rescue, just go to their website to learn more.  
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