Photo of Darwin Falls

Survival Stories: Real Life Heroes at Death Valley’s Darwin Falls

It’s 102 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley. You and your hiking partner are heading down to Darwin Falls, a lush oasis in the scorching desert. Five minutes into the 1.5-mile hike down, two hikers run up from the trail shouting to call 911. They tell you a woman has fallen on the trail and is bleeding from her head. Deep in the desert, none of your phones have service. The hikers continue up the trail to the nearest tourist center. You begin the hurried trek down to the falls to see if there’s anything you can do to help… 

Real-life heroes save a hiker in Death Valley 

This true story actually happened to Patrick, an outdoor enthusiast and friend of GOES. Miraculously, Patrick and his hiking partner are both trained doctors.

They found the injured woman sitting on the stones by the falls. Her sobbing, terrified friend held her close. The woman was shaking, and several blood-soaked shirts were wrapped around her head.

Not long ago the woman took the wrong path and walked across some slippery stones halfway down a 100-foot-tall waterfall. She slipped down the face of the falls, hitting her head twice before landing in the water. Thankfully she was conscious when she emerged but had no memory of falling and was bleeding profusely from her head. Two hikers had first aid kits, but they were not prepared to handle this critical emergency. A proactive father and son wrapped her head in shirts, but the wrap was not tight enough, and the bleeding continued.

As soon as he arrived, Patrick’s and his companion quickly removed the shirts and bandaged her properly with a first aid kit. The father then offered her an aspirin, but this would have been a terrible idea despite his good intentions. Aspirin thins the blood, which would worsen the bleeding. Such a traumatic injury could cause damage to the skull, internal bleeding from the lungs, or even the abdomen. Falling on one’s back from that height can rupture the spleen and kidneys. Controlling the bleeding should be the first priority.

With the doctors\’ administration, the new bandaging minimized the immediate danger of bleeding. Soon a rescue helicopter arrived to airlift the woman to a hospital where she was treated for her head injury, broken arm, and sprained ribs.

Thanks to a few proactive bystanders, the right tools, and timely professional medical advice, the woman made a full recovery.

What would you do in an outdoor medical emergency?

Had you been there without a doctor, what would you have done? Would your critical choices be informed or improvised?

Stories like Patrick’s are the real-life inspiration behind the GOES Health App. Suppose one of the Darwin Falls hikers had access to specialized medical tools and knowledge on their smartphone. In that case, they could have handled the situation without an actual doctor on-site.

GOES’ medical diagnostic tool works offline and guides you through several emergencies like this traumatic injury. The automated chatbot narrows down the safest measures to take in a crisis as determined by medical professionals at Stanford University.

With GOES premium, users can access 24-hour support from trained wilderness medicine doctors via cell or satellite phone service.

Most of us will not be so lucky to have a doctor close in an emergency, but you have the next best thing with GOES in your pocket.

Download the GOES Health App

Prepare for your next adventure and equip yourself and your loved ones in case of an outdoor medical emergency. Download the GOES Health App today for iOS and Android. Follow GOES and subscribe for more wilderness medicine survival stories.

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