Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011
During the early morning hours of Sunday, October 23rd, a park visitor hiked out of the backcountry and placed a 911 call for medical assistance for his companion, who was camped at Laguna Meadows in the high Chisos Mountains. Supervisory ranger and park medic Michael Ryan responded and expeditiously made his way up the steep trail in the darkness to the site, where he found a 19-year-old woman experiencing severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. While en route, Ryan had asked a park packer to join him with a mule team. Shortly thereafter, packer Joseph Moyer and his mule, Cash, made their way up the mountainside in the dark. The woman was stabilized, secured on Cash, and escorted out of the backcountry at sunrise to a waiting ambulance. Fourteen hours later, as the sun was setting, the park received another 911 call for assistance in the Chisos, this time from Southwest #4 campsite, the furthest and most remote campsite in the Chisos Mountains. Ryan, Moyer and Cash again responded, this time joined by ranger Scott Taylor. Due to the remote location, it took several hours of night hiking to reach the site. There they stabilized and evacuated a 20-year-old man with an incapacitating spleen infarction. While medical evacuations common at Big Bend, night evacuations in the high Chisos are rare, especially made by the same response crew within a few hours of each other.