Our plan was to check out some old diggings on Jeff's claim.
I picked up Jeff and his two boys early Sunday morning, after a short drive we arrived at the claim. The area we wanted to take a look at was across the river and upstream about 1/4 mile. We decided to hike downstream and cross the bridge rather than wade the cold river early in the morning. To work our way back upstream we had to hike up the hillside. We couldn't travel on the edge of the river backup stream because the hillside is to steep, it drops directly into the river. The plan was to go uphill about 200 feet, then headed upstream until we reach a small feeder creek, hike down the feeder creek back to the main river, from their we could travel upstream along rivers edge.
We where almost to the feeder creek when I heard one of the boys yell. When I turned to look back I was knocked back forward by Jeff, as he went flying by me. He lit face down on the hillside and was sliding downhill fast. At the same time a large boulder ( approximately 24 inches in diameter ) just brushed my leg as it went by. I wasn't sure if he was conscious or not. He hit a small tree about three or 4 inches in diameter, the impact tore the tree out of the ground. When he hit the tree he almost came to a stop. As we started for him, he started sliding down the hill again. This time I seen his arm move. He slid for another 10 or 15 feet. When he came to a large tree he hooked it with his arm and pretty much stopped himself.
When I got to Jeff he was lying face down and was in the process of trying to raise up. The first thing I noticed was, he was bleeding a very badly. Ask him if he was OK, he replied that he wasn't sure. I look him over best I could to make sure he had not cut an artery. He had a severe cut from just about the center of his head in the back, traveling toward his forehead down the center of his head to his forehead, then angling off to between his ear and eye. The cut was to the skull and opened up to at least an inch wide. I had a clean towel in my pack. I got that out and Jeff held it on the wound to stop the bleeding. I did not notice any other wounds. Luckily he had not broken anything. It was at that moment I realize I had nothing in my pack for injuries.
We now had to decide how to get out of there. I don't know if Jeff would be able to hike up the hill to the road and then ½ mile down the road to the bridge. The road was blocked at the bridge so I was unable to bring the truck up to him. The other option we had was to slide down the hill to the river. All we had to do after that was cross the river, then the truck was up a small bank 75 feet away. The water was very cold, fairly swift and about thigh deep. I wasn't sure if Jeff would have the strength to cross the river when we got there. Jeff decided to try hiking uphill. We took our time hiking up. I think we were all relieved when we reached the road, it was all downhill to the truck from there. The trip to the bridge was down in easy grades. I was impressed with Jeff's stamina, hiking up that hill and then down the road after losing that much blood, with an injury that I knew had a hurt BAD.
The boys kept an eye on Jeff and I went ahead to get the truck, when I got to the truck drove back down to the bridge, we all got there about the same time. The hospital was only 30 to 45 minutes away at that point.
While sitting in the waiting room, I was thinking about what first aid supplies would have helped. With that type of injury, I couldn't think of much that would have helped. The one thing that did come to mind is the first aid training I took 20 years ago. I was surprised that it came back to me, I remembered what to check for and in what order. I remembered after losing a lot of blood that shocked was an issue, and I remembered how to keep an eye out for it. The first aid training helped me keep calm and be able to think. After about 4 hours they had Jeff put back together ,but wanted to keep him a while longer for observation.
At this time all I can suggest is that you carry a few band aids a clean rag or towel and have some tape. The one thing I would strongly suggest - if you haven't taken a first aid course - Do It. I seriously doubt if you would ever regret taking it. If something happens, at least you would know the basics.