Ten Red Deer-based Scouts, Venturers and leaders were recently honoured for their efforts coming to the aid of a Scout leader who broke his leg on a backpacking trip.
In a ceremony late last month, the 10 were presented with the Medal for Meritorious Conduct for their actions on the night of June 26, 2018 in a remote area near Siffleur Falls, 150 km west of Rocky Mountain House. Receiving the medal were: Company Scouter Bruce Schollie, Company Scouter Trent Hummel, Venturer Mathew Hummel, Venturer Ian Tainsh, Troop Scouter Brenda Tainsh, Venturer Rylyn Leighton, Troop Scouter Len Leighton, Troop Scouter Tim Simla, Scout Torin Thorhauer and Pack Scouter Ian Ihme.
The group was part of a Venturer-led introduction to backpacking camp that was to spend the night at a backcountry spot about eight km from Siffleur Falls.
Around 9 p.m. the night of June 26, Scouter Ryan Morecom was hiking with a small group of Scouts and Scouters across the White Rabbit Creek when he slipped and jammed his leg and foot between rocks. His injuries were severe enough that he could not walk back to camp and the others had to build a pair of log bridges and support Morecom as he was taken back to the camp about 500 metres away.
After getting back to camp, Morecom’s leg was splinted. He was in mild shock and intense pain and the decision was made to carry him out of the bush back to the trailhead.
A stretcher was fashioned from forest poles, a tarpaulin and para-cord. Around 9:30 p.m., eight stretcher bearers headed out with headlamps, food, water, stretcher repair items and a portable saw.
Six carried the stretcher at a time, and a Scouter ran ahead with a saw to clear a path through the brush. A 50-metre-long suspension bridge was too narrow for the stretcher and one Scouter carried the 190-pound Ryan across it on his back.
The eight-kilometre trip to where their vehicles were parked took two-and-a-half hours.
“Everyone had sore shoulders and arms, was drenched with sweat, and exhausted,” said Schollie. “Given how arduous the hike was, I was amazed at the camaraderie, positive attitude, stoicism and focus from everyone who carried that stretcher — especially the Venturers and Scouts.”
After arriving at the parking lot about midnight, Morecom was loaded in a vehicle and taken by a Scouter to Rocky Mountain Hospital. A second Scouter followed in Morecom’s vehicle. The other six returned to camp, arriving about 3 a.m.
Morecom reached hospital about 1:30 a.m. and was diagnosed with a fractured tibia and bad ankle sprain.