Just before 2:00 p.m. yesterday Gallatin County 911 received a call from the manager of the Covered Wagon Ranch, north of West Yellowstone in the Gallatin Canyon.
A 64-year old female guest of the ranch from Hawaii on a guided horseback ride had fallen from her horse suffering head injuries. The wrangler on the ride, in contact with the ranch by radio, reported the incident.
The party was located near Monument Mountain, an approximately three to three and a half hour ride from the trailhead.
A six-member horse and rider team from Search and Rescue staged at the Sage Creek Trailhead for a rescue. Since there were no LifeFlight or other Helicopters available in the entire region, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Deputies enlisted the help of a U.S. Forest Service Helicopter in Cody, Wyoming. A U.S. Park Service Ranger who is also a paramedic and member of Gallatin County SAR was picked up at the West Yellowstone Airport by the chopper to care for the patient.
The patient, complaining of head and back pain, was picked up at the Monument Meadow area at just after 5:30 this afternoon and flown to the Sage Creek Trailhead. From there the patient was taken by Big Sky Fire Dept. ambulance to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital at just before 6:00 p.m.
“Thanks to the Forest Service chopper and the Park Service paramedic, we were able to avoid a long all-night rescue,” said GCSO Deputy Mark Murphy, Incident Commander on the rescue. “It would have been a difficult, long and very uncomfortable ride out for the patient. Instead, she’s getting the care she needs in Bozeman.”
Deputy Murphy says radio communication also played a key role in the wilderness rescue.
Those traveling in the Montana backcountry, even for an afternoon, are advised to carry some form of communication, such as a radio or a satellite phone.