Juneau Snowmobile Club assists in snowy rescue

Man in stable condition after experiencing chest pains at John Muir Cabin

A 65-year-old man was more than three miles away from a road and at 1,500-foot elevation when he woke up with chest pains Wednesday morning.


The man was spending the night at John Muir Cabin when he awoke in pain, according to Capital City Fire/Rescue Assistant Chief Tod Chambers. Fortunately, another man who was staying in the cabin had cellphone service and called for help at 6:40 a.m.

“That was fantastic because that could have been scary,” Chambers said. “Like, ‘How am I supposed to get ahold of somebody?’…Thank goodness there was cell coverage.”

Alaska State Troopers ended up responding, and called in CCFR as well as the Juneau Snowmobile Club for assistance. At 8:45 a.m., Chambers said, a group of three firefighters and three members of the Snowmobile Club (all of them on snowmachines) headed up to the cabin.

They spent the next couple of hours clearing the trail and scaling the 1,500-foot elevation gain toward the cabin. They found the man, put him on one of the snowmachines and got him back down to the trailhead near University of Southeast student housing, where an ambulance was waiting. There are two trailheads that lead to the cabin, Juneau Snowmobile Club Board Member Mike Laudert said. One is for hikers and one is for snowmachines.

Responders had him in the ambulance at 11:50 a.m., Chambers said. He was in stable condition when the ambulance left for Bartlett Regional Hospital, Chambers said. Two hours later, a BRH spokesperson said the man was still in stable condition.

The Juneau Snowmobile Club is primarily a recreational group, but President Corey Baxter said there is a list of club members who are on call for situations like this. The people on that list have training in search-and-rescue and avalanche scenarios, Baxter said. Laudert said the list is organized with the most experienced people at the top. Those members get the first calls, he said.

Chambers said the three members of the club who assisted the rescue Wednesday were Shawn Lovell, Tom Mattice and Stuart Meeks.

“They were a huge help,” Chambers said.

Baxter said there’s a training session every year where people from the club, CCFR, the U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers and SEADOGS among other groups get together for emergency training. He said they usually go up to Dan Moller Cabin on Douglas Island and go through drills and scenarios to prepare for something like what happened Wednesday.

Situations like these haven’t been happening as much in recent years, Baxter said, due to mild winters. Still, Baxter said he’s been on four or five emergency responses and said they always have to be ready.

“Almost every year we probably have one or two calls to come out during the winter,” Baxter said.

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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