Glacier National Park promises adventure, but when Valier’s Adam Perkins made his very first visit he experienced more adventure than he anticipated. Fortunately for another tourist, he was prepared for the excitement. Adam’s name may sound familiar as he and his wife were featured in this newspaper earlier this year as new managers at the Stone School Inn Bed and Breakfast in Valier.
The family was exploring near Johns Lake Trail Sunday, Aug. 16, when they stopped for a photo opportunity above McDonald Creek.
Immediately after the photo was taken, Adam turned towards the creek and spotted a woman face down, floating downriver, and tumbling over large rocks. He said at first it didn’t click that she was in peril, “I thought she was making a video or something.”
When he heard her friend screaming, he knew it was time for action.
Perkins is a swimmer and an Advanced Scuba Diver. He was trained in swift water rescue while attending reserve police academy several years ago. He served as a lifeguard at a Boy Scout camp in Priest Lake, Idaho, and as a Boy Scout Swimming Merit Badge Counselor. However, it has been years since he used those skills.
“I forgot the first rule – never go into the water on a rescue (if you can avoid it),” said Adam. That rule is to protect the rescuer from becoming a second victim. “I had Parker (his son) on my shoulders. I dumped him off and jumped right in.” He scrambled down the rocks and into the water. He slipped on the slick rocks and realized that where he was heading would not help him reach the victim. He moved back to shore and found another spot to re-enter the water and encounter the victim.
There were some fishermen farther downstream. Adam notified them that the victim had fallen and turned his attention to her.
“Hi, my name is Adam. I’m here to help,” he told her. The victim’s face was bruised and bleeding. It was obvious she had fallen. “What’s your name,” he asked.
She was able to reply, “Jen.”
“Let’s get you out of the water,” he coaxed.
Adam linked arms with her and they made their way to the far shore at which time, one of the fishermen arrived and helped them to a flat rock that was above the water line.
As luck, or providence, would have it, a wife of one of the fishermen was a nurse and quickly began assessing the victim’s condition. Tina Perkins, who is also a nurse, had followed Adam across the river cautioning her children to stay where they were.
The victim could not stand, so Adam went downriver to find a route to the path above. Meanwhile, the victim’s friend had called for help.
The first park ranger to arrive on the scene was an EMT and he grabbed his medical bag. Adam waited for additional emergency personnel who arrived about 15 minutes later and led them to the victim and other responders who could not be seen from the trail. Because the Perkins children had obeyed their mother, they served as a landmark on the opposite side of the creek.
When emergency personnel were in place, Adam, Tina, and their children hiked down opposite sides of the creek and reunited at the bridge. A park ranger collected contact info from Tina and the Perkins were free to resume their day of adventuring – which they did!
At press time, Adam and Tina had received no contact from any of the individuals involved.
Some facts to note about this incident:
•The victim stepped off the trail to take a picture and lost her footing.
•The victim was wearing medical identification tags on her wrist.
•Emergency training may come into play at any time, so be prepared.
Water is the number one cause of fatalities in Glacier National Park. Please use extreme caution near water.
See https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/safety.htm for more safety tips.