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Icy roads and snowy weather proved to be a challenge for Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue (SSFR) on the winter solstice. Around 8 am on Friday, December 21, 2018 responders were dispatched to the report of a vehicle off of the road on Highway 40. Routt County Communications (RCC) was informed of a vehicle off of the roadway in the area of Fox Creek Estates but was unable to get a precise location due to a language barrier and cell phone signal issues as the individual had continued past the accident scene. SSFR responded to the area and finally located the vehicle a large distance off of the road. Per Colorado State Patrol (CSP), the vehicle was going east-bound when it went off the side of the road and launched 186 feet, cleared several trees and then rolled numerous times up the hill. It is unknown whether the driver was ejected or crawled out at some time during the night or early morning hours.
SSFR found the patient severely hypothermic with multi-system trauma near his vehicle. Due to the injuries of the patient, a request for Classic Air Medical was made with the intent to fly the patient directly to one of the Level 1 trauma centers. While waiting for the arrival of the helicopter, Fire Fighter Paramedics and EMTs packaged the patient and set up a rope system to haul the patient and EMS Personnel back up to Highway 40 which required the help of all 8 on-duty personnel to manage the patient, scene and rope systems. At 9:30, the patient was successfully extricated to the road and the patient was transported emergent to UC Health at YVMC. Classic Air was diverted to the hospital to transport the patient after hospital stabilization. At this time, SSFR received a mutual aid call for paramedic assistance to help a patient with North Routt Fire Protection District.
Throughout the day, SSFR responded to 8 other medical calls for service, a minor traffic accident, two calls to the ski area, and 2 calls to transport a patient to the airfield along with flight crew for further treatment. At 15:40 SSFR was dispatched for a rollover accident with 4 parties possible trapped at mile marker (MM) 154, the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass. Radio updates from RCC indicated that the parties were no longer trapped in the vehicle so one of the ambulances was turned around to go back to Steamboat. While SSFR responded to this accident in icy and snowy conditions a third ambulance (extra staffing ambulance) was transporting the critical hypothermic patient from earlier to Yampa Valley Regional Airport along with Classic Air Medical Personnel. While crews ensured that there were no injuries with the accident on Rabbit Ears Pass and the patient and flight crew were being dropped off at the airport a third call for service went out for a patient at the Routt County Jail.
After determining that no parties were injured on the East side of Rabbit Ears Pass the Engine and ambulance started returning to Steamboat in very wintry conditions. The ambulance that had taken the critical patient to Yampa Valley regional airport was just getting ready to stop and offer assistance to the ambulance crew at the jail when RCC paged out a call for a 2 vehicle head on accident on Highway 131 MM 68, with 3 parties injured and one fatality. At this point in time the engine and ambulance were 30 minutes from Steamboat and Captain Wilkinson asked for page to be sent out for any available off duty personnel to respond to the accident on Highway 131. The ambulance returning from YVRA got on scene first with FF/Paramedic DeRisio assuming command of the scene. DeRisio confirmed that there was one fatality, three injured patients of which two were trapped in the car. Due to no immediate availability of off-duty personnel a mutual aid request was issued to Oak Creek Fire Protection District (OCFPD) for an Engine Crew to perform extrication and West Routt Fire Protection District (WRFPD) for an ambulance to cover Steamboat Springs and the surrounding area. Shortly after OCFPD started to drive to Steamboat, SSFR was able to put together an engine crew staffed by Fire Chief Mel Stewart and three off duty personnel and the ambulance from the jail after they had cleared their call. OCFPD response was cancelled due to the greater distance from the scene than the off duty staffed engine. With the help of the second arriving ambulance crew, the crew of four were able to extricate one trapped patient in about 20 minutes using hand tools on the less damaged side of the vehicle. At this time, the Engine returning from the pass arrived on scene. The engine crew assisted in packaging and transporting three injured patients in the two ambulances to UC Health at YVMC. UC Health at YVMC called in multiple personnel to assist with the accident victims.
After loading the patients, the remaining staff from the engine remained on scene for an hour assisting law enforcement with lighting, traffic control and assisted the coroner with hydraulic tools in extricating the victim of the accident.
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue would like to thank OCFPD, WRFPD who covered the city of Steamboat and surrounding area while all available personnel were tied up along with our local law enforcement agencies and Routt County Communications. SSFR reminds everyone to be extra cautious and driver slower in detrimental conditions and pull to the right for emergency vehicles when their emergency lights and sirens are on.
ContactChristian Keller, SSFR PIO, 970.879.7170 or email