Rescue at Cowles Mountain Tonight

Southern California and far-away places. Hiking, wildlife, cycling etc.

Rescue at Cowles Mountain Tonight

Postby Wildhorse » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:00 pm

A police helicopter, seven fire trucks, an ambulance, a ranger truck, and at least 25 to 30 fire and police personnel were dispatched to handle a rescue at Cowles Mountain. One fellow descended from the helicopter. Five more drove up to the accident site in the ranger truck. The rest watched it all from Barker Way. Apparently a fellow crashed his mountain bike, flew over the handle bars and broke his collar bone. It appears to have happened in the steep section of the Barker Service Road near the top of Cowles.

Does anyone know why so many people and vehicles, including fire trucks, are dispatched for such rescues?
Last edited by Wildhorse on Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rescue at Cowles Mountain Tonight

Postby climbant » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:25 pm

I can't speak for that agency or the incident you observed but typically a department will have a standard response for this type of rescue. Usually a chief officer for command and coordination, a couple of engines that provide medical care and manpower to potentially have to carry the victim down the trail in a rescue basket, and some sort of rescue rig that carries rescue equipment. Having done that several times it's a lot of work. That can expand depending on the information received though, an average sized person that is on the trail is much more simplistic than a very heavy person, or someone that fell into a crevice which requires specialized equipment that not everyone is trained in nor would it be cost or space effective to have it on all apparatus. If the victim location is a broad area, more will be required for the search portion. Often in the Coachella Valley, CHP or the sheriff will send a helicopter primarily for victim location. Use of a helicopter for extraction is a high risk scenario where a lot of things could go wrong including variables that we can't control. We usually reserve that when there is no other viable and safe option or the speed would save the patients life.

Another issue could be jurisdictional boundaries, I think Cowels is solidly in the city of San Diego though, incidents that are on a border can have a lot of duplication of efforts and equipment if those agencies haven't previously worked those out for a cooperative response.
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Re: Rescue at Cowles Mountain Tonight

Postby Wildhorse » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:49 pm

Thank you, Climbant. Now I understand much better what I saw.
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Re: Rescue at Cowles Mountain Tonight

Postby Ed » Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:50 am

Wildhorse wrote:It appears to have happened in the steep section of the Barker Service Road near the top of Cowles.


I always hated sharing that road with bicyclists, particularly that part of the road when walking downhill with my dog. It is only a matter of time before a pedestrian is killed or crippled there by an out-of-control bicyclist. And did the accident occur after dark?
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Re: Rescue at Cowles Mountain Tonight

Postby Wildhorse » Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:46 am

It happened around 7 PM. I came down the road and was less than ten minutes from the bottom when the helicopter came. I saw several bikers on top. I assume it was one of them. What a bad way to end the day.

It is true. Some bikers use the service road as a downhill raceway. Never mind the 10 mph speed limit.
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Re: Rescue at Cowles Mountain Tonight

Postby climbant » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:06 pm

I don't understand the appeal of short very crowded trails to the mountain bike community. I get on Cowles a couple times a year when I visit family and like the bump and grind here is just way too busy. I don't bike but that would be the last place I'd want to ride.
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Re: Rescue at Cowles Mountain Tonight

Postby Ed » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:19 pm

climbant wrote:I don't understand the appeal of short very crowded trails to the mountain bike community. I get on Cowles a couple times a year when I visit family and like the bump and grind here is just way too busy. I don't bike but that would be the last place I'd want to ride.


Perhaps you are thinking of the main trail, rather than the service road on the other side. I can see why the bikers like the service road, but it is not comfortable knowing one can come thundering down on you, around a corner, where they can't see you in advance and are concentrating on making the turn. When walking down the service road, I always kept track of whether there were bikers above. As for the steep section, it is not simply steep, the footing there is poor even for hikers going downhill. A combination of hardpan, ruts and gravelly stuff on the surface.
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Re: Rescue at Cowles Mountain Tonight

Postby climbant » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:39 pm

I know the service road, and the upper section has very poor footing for sure. My confusion though is why some Mountain Bikers choose to ride short and very crowded trails in general, it just seams like it would be a nightmare.
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Re: Rescue at Cowles Mountain Tonight

Postby Wildhorse » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:32 pm

Some of the mountain bikers on the service road are regulars who enjoy the uphill challenge more than the downhill thrill. They creep down at ten miles an hour or less and are careful to not hit anyone. But others seem to love the downhill thrill and hate the walking people who are in they way.

I see other mountain bikers on the Mesa Trail. It is a single track challenge either way. Zooming down that trail would be very dangerous because of the hikers. I don't recall seeing anyone coming down the Mesa Trail fast. I think many bikers on the Mesa Trail may go down the service road.

One sees all kinds in Mission Trails Regional Park, including some bikers wearing racing clothing, riding titanium bikes fast on the road around Lake Murray, dodging the walkers, joggers, children on trickles and training wheels and baby strollers.

It is a wonder that more of us don't kill each other.
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Re: Rescue at Cowles Mountain Tonight

Postby Sose » Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:06 pm

Hikers and mountain bikers can get along with a little consideration. My native Santa Anas are an interesting example. South of the 74 lies the San Mateo wilderness where bikes are not allowed on the beautiful & some challenging trails (whoever made them must have considered switchbacks a waste of ground). On the north side of the 74 are some of the best technical and expert mountain bike trails around here. Those trails, I usually run on and always give bikes the right of way. In the San Mateo area where no bikes are allowed but some venture ( 1 bike rescue in April) I have the right of way and will defend it.
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