Two nurses in rural North Carolina jumped into action over the weekend after an 18-year-old unnamed hiker fell from Hawksbill Mountain in a nearby park. Burke County Search and Rescue recounted the scene online. They said the young woman plummeted 45 feet from the gorge and was badly injured when first responders arrived.
The EMS crew determined that the hiker would need a blood transfusion before she could be airlifted out of the woods. Once the team stabilized the patient, the crew looked for a safe place to perform the transfusion. They prepared the stretcher and tried to airlift her up the mountain, but the winds were too strong at the top of the cliff to use a helicopter, so they decided to carry her down the mountain instead.
At the same time, search and rescuers alerted the local authorities to the situation. Two flight nurses were then dispatched to bring fresh blood to the hiker’s current location. They hiked through the woods in the middle of the night and met the rescuers half-way down the trail.
Even though the blood made it to the scene intact, the nurses determined it wasn’t needed.
The team managed to airlift the patient out of the woods by around 1 AM. She was transferred to a local trauma center, but the facility has yet to comment on her condition.
Burke County Search and Rescue said they believe this was the first whole blood delivery in the Linville Gorge area.
“In that area, the mountain is rugged,” Captain Burke Browning with Burke Emergency Services said. “The place she fell in was quite rugged so they did have to do quite a bit of work to get her out.”
“Whole blood” is the blood that flows through a persons’ veins. It contains red cells, white cells, and platelets, suspended in plasma.
According to the American Red Cross, it is the most flexible type of donation. It can be transfused in its original form or used to help multiple people when separated into its specific components of red cells, plasma and platelets.