California Firefighters Work to Rescue Driver


CALFIRE San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County firefighters worked together to rescue a driver of a single-vehicle accident on Thursday August 19, 2010.

Firefighters were dispatched just before 9 p.m. to a vehicle accident with people trapped on Highway 166 near Rockfront Ranch. Santa Barbara County was asked to respond one engine and battalion chief.

Once on scene, Medic Engine 20 assumed command and gave a report of one vehicle over the side, about 300 feet in a river bed, with one victim near the vehicle suffering from unknown injuries. Two firefighters were sent downhill to assess the driver's injuries.

Engine 3480, Rescue 20 and SBCoFD Engine 22 arrived and started to set up a hauling system from the roadway. Four more firefighters were asked to assist with packaging and to assist SBCo Copter 309 with an LZ south of the accident.

Once packaged, the driver was carried about one quarter mile to Copter 309. Thick brush, river rock and unstable ground challenged rescuers the entire trip to the copter. The victim was transported to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara for further treatment.

It was later discovered that the vehicle had two occupants, both from England, that were traveling from Bakersfield to Santa Barbara. The British female wasn't familiar with driving in the U.S. The driver hit a rock before driving off the road, rolled several times, and came to rest 235 feet below the roadway in the river bed.

The passenger, with no shoes, climbed out of the wrecked car and made the trip uphill through brush, rocks, sandy soil and a barbed wire fence to get help. A good samaritan stopped and went downhill to keep the driver conscious and talking. A local SBCo sheriff was the first to arrive and assisted the driver before fire crews arrived.

The rental car was a total loss.