It took two helicopters and a lot of on-the-ground coordination to rescue an injured logger who suffered a serious back injury Thursday after a fallen tree slammed into him in steep terrain deep in the Applegate Valley.
The unidentified man was cutting trees on private land off Slagle Creek Road when the accident happened, according to Applegate Fire District No. 9 Capt. Greg Gilbert.
The site was approximately two miles up a thickly forested mountainside, Gilbert said.
"He was in a precarious position when it happened," Gilbert said. "It made for a difficult rescue operation."
The man, who was said to be in his mid-30s, was working on the site when a fallen tree broke free of some brush and slammed into him from behind.
The man was unable to move on his own and was complaining of "severe back pain," Gilbert said.
Applegate Fire District and America Medical Response paramedics from Grants Pass were flown to the site to stabilize the man.
Upon reaching the site they realized that it would be impossible to haul the man down to a waiting ambulance.
"It was about 110 percent grade, so it was very steep," Gilbert said. "You were also chest-deep in limbs and trees up there, so gaining access was not going to be easy."
Fortunately, the logging crew had cut a helicopter landing zone at the site, which allowed a spot for a rescue helicopter to touch down, Gilbert said.
"It was a good thing they were flying the loggers in and out of there, because it gave us that small landing patch," Gilbert said. "It was only big enough for the skids to touch down, but it was good enough."
The paramedics moved the man onto a backboard and he was lifted out of the site by a Jackson County Air Rescue chopper.
He then was lowered onto a road at the base of the mountain and loaded into a Mercy Flights helicopter and flown to Rogue Regional Medical Center.
Gilbert said the rescue was complicated from the start.
The man was struck by a 10-inch-diameter log, which could have been fatal, Gilbert said.
The logging operation was conducted by Croman Logging Co. and crews from New Meadows Logging out of Idaho.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.