by Teal Zeisler, ’07
Many of us know what it’s like to get our kicks from being outdoors and taking off to remote locations. We’re also aware that the trade-off is a risk of being injured far enough from civilization that help is not simply a cell phone call away.
In that situation, all we can hope is that another kind, like-minded individual will stumble upon us, one preferably with first aid knowledge and local familiarity. During the month of August, two SCA interns fitting that description came to the aid of fellow adventurers.
In Olympic National Park, backcountry intern Grant Haynes was out for a day on the trails when he ran into a group of hikers. They told him that they needed help for a scout leader who had broken her leg farther up the mountain. A trained Wilderness First Responder, Grant followed them back to their camp at 4000 feet above sea level, provided a diagnosis, and splinted the woman’s leg. Then he hiked almost 5 miles down the mountain, recruiting an additional rescuer and gathering supplies once he arrived back at his site. Grant and another rescuer began the trip back up to the scout group at 9 pm. When they arrived at 1:30 am, Grant checked on the injured women and set up camp for the few hours before dawn. At 7 am he organized the descent, strapping the injured woman into a litter and supervising the crew as they carried her down the mountain.
All in all, Grant hiked 16 miles over mountainous terrain to complete the rescue, in addition to 6 miles of hiking during work earlier in the day. The injured woman’s husband and fellow troop leader praised Grant for his display of “intelligence, confidence, compassion, and caution.” This was Grant’s first real-life rescue situation. He stated that, “It definitely built my confidence as a rescuer to utilize my training and to be able to help someone stuck in that type of situation. That’s why we’re up there.”
The second rescue involving an SCA intern occurred farther south on the West Coast. Donna Matthews and her partner were riding a motorcycle on a scenic highway along the California coastline, looking for adventure during a weekend trip. They certainly got one, although not what they anticipated. Taking an exit off of the main, crowded highway onto an isolated side road, they skidded out while pulling onto the shoulder. The accident left Donna’s partner with a gushing arm wound and Donna struggling to free herself from underneath the motorcycle. Too injured to get back on the bike, in unfamiliar rural surroundings, and without cell phone reception, the pair was at a loss as to what their next step should be.
It was with perfect timing that Joe Jaspersen, SCA Conservation Intern, arrived at the scene. “It was a Sunday, and I was on my way home from church and doing errands in town. I saw Donna, her partner, and the motorcycle in the road and pulled over to help.” Joe helped move their belongings from the bike and to his car and offered them food, drinks, and first aid supplies. He then drove them roughly 10 miles to the nearest hospital. Donna’s wounds required stitches and her partner had surgery on her elbow. Joe returned to the hospital a couple of times during the day to check on the pair. Donna remarked that, “It was such a comfort to have Joe around . . . just to know that someone was available.”
When Donna asked why Joe had been driving along that particular road, he told her that he was an intern with the National Park Service. “He mentioned the Park Service, and I had a feeling he might be involved with SCA,” Donna reflected. By coincidence, she had spent a summer as an SCA volunteer in 1982, taking a cross-country road trip to work at the Grand Canyon after college graduation. Donna remarked that she, “definitely felt a connection, a calming and trusting feeling, once I knew that he was with SCA. I knew we were in good hands.”
There is indeed something kindred about the personal values that lead SCA volunteers to their positions. A successful SCA member must possess a sense of adventure, a strong spirit, and an altruistic nature. SCA president Dale Penny put it best when he said, “The efforts of Grant and Joseph, while extraordinary, also typify our volunteers’ ethic of selfless service in support of others . . . [We are] grateful to work with the best of today’s young people.”
Grant and Joe are both currently students and have returned to their respective universities. Grant is a junior at St. Lawrence College in New York, where he majors in Fine Arts with a concentration in Studio. Joe attends Eastern Kentucky University; he is a senior with hopes to attain a graduate degree in public administration and one day work in the Kentucky juvenile justice department.
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