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Recent TRSAR Missions - East Verde River near Water Wheel Campground

June 07

By: Steven Stevens
EMT/Duty Officer
Whispering Pines Fire Department
Payson, AZ

The Whispering Pines Fire Department called on the expertise of Tonto Rim Search and Rescue to assist in extrication of a 27 year old man who had attempted to jump off a cliff into the East Verde River near Water Wheel Campground Saturday June 23rd.

The man landed head first on a small ledge about thirty feet below suffering head and shoulder trauma. Volunteers from Beaver Valley Fire Dept., Houston Mesa Fire Dept., and employees from Lifestar Ambulance also assisted on scene. WPFD Fire Chief Mark Essary directed the operation from the campground while WPFD Assistant Chief Dave Bullard climbed down to, the patient and stabilized him.

Tonto Rim Search and Rescue provided technical climbing gear and equipment to pull the patient from the ledge. Once the patient was pulled from the ledge he was hand carried by the volunteers about three quarters of a mile over rough terrain to the campground. He was then transported by the ambulance to a landing zone where a helicopter took him to a level one trauma center in Phoenix.

The Waterwheel campground is a popular swimming spot this time of year and many people feel they must jump from the cliffs into the river below. There have been multiple injuries at this site and a few years ago a person died at the same spot from this activity. Even if the jumper is not killed, extrications are not cheap.

The ambulance and helicopter rides, the fuel and equipment used can cost the patient over $15,000.00! "That's a lot of money riding on one jump" said an EMT at the scene. (by jumping) "They're gambling not only with their money but also with their health and possibly their life!"

Click on thumbnails for larger pictures

WPFD Assistant Chief Bullard works on the injured jumper and a Lifestar Ambulance employee holds the IV bag while on a ledge thirty feet below the top on the cliff where people jump from.


WPFD Assistant Chief Bullard and a Lifestar Ambulance employee lift the injured jumper into a stokes basket while Tonto Search and Rescue volunteers hold the basket in place from the side and from below.


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