BIG BEAR LAKE (CBS13) – A CHP officer flying in to rescue a stranded hiker needs rescuing himself when a helicopter blade hit him in the head. Luckily, the hiker with a broken leg turned out to be a doctor.
“You could just tell, because I’m watching them, that something’s gone horribly wrong. My best friend comes running up the hill with an ashen look on his face and says, ‘Dude, the rotor just hit this guy. I think he’s dead,” Dr. Jeremy Kilburn said.
Kilburn’s adrenaline and instinct kicked in. He didn’t let his broken leg stop him – but it sure slowed him down.
“The next 100 yards were the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he said. “He was supporting me. I’m like tripping over these rocks trying to get to this guy because now I see him and knew he was in a world of hurt.”
The CHP chopper touched down on rocks near Big Bear Lake. Officer and medic Tony Stanley was critically injured when he exited the chopper and was struck.
His partner the pilot, the doctor and a camp counselor were at his side.
“He wasn’t breathing very well and there were periods he wasn’t breathing at all,” Kilburn said.
Kilburn had to act fast. He was seconds away from an emergency intubation.
“And I was ready to start putting a tracheal tube down his airway when he started coughing and moving his hands,” he said.
The doctor, pilot and camp counselor crammed into the chopper and took off for the hospital.
“At one point he started to wake up, like ‘what’s going on’ and gave us a thumbs up actually,” the doctor said.
A team of strangers working together likely saved the life of a rescuer suddenly in his own life-and-death emergency.
“It’s one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had – people out there in the wild coming together,” Kilburn said.