Mattole Valley Thanks Rio Dell Fire, REACH Air Ambulance

This is a press release from the Honeydew Volunteer Fire Company:

After a successful 29th Roll on the Mattole, a Fundraiser for the Honeydew Volunteer Fire Company, volunteers were cleaning up the Mattole Grange, and campers were slowly waking up at A.W.Way campground. Bacon was cooking. Meat bees were ready. A young camper was stung after swatting a bee from her much  younger friend. The sting on her finger quickly led to swelling on her face, and a red rash all over. The Parents quickly notified emergency services, Petrolia Fire, Honeydew Fire, with personnel close by at the Grange, and Rio Dell Fire responded.

  A.W.Way Campground is a long way from Rio Dell. Why was Rio Dell responding?  CalFire resources are extremely drawn down fighting serious fires all over Northern California. Both Briceland, and Rio Dell Fire, among others have helped by providing fire engines, and crews to cover local CalFire stations. Briceland was at Mattole briefly before being asked to go to Mendocino County.

  Due to the distance from a hospital, and the patient’s age, REACH Air Ambulance accepted  the mission to transport the patient. The Helicopter arrived just before the ground ambulance, but because of concerns over the chance of weather diverting the aircraft somewhere other than Eureka, thus complicating family reunification, the decision was made to transport via ground ambulance.

  Now keep in mind: just to respond in, and land the helicopter is risky for the Pilot, Flight Nurse, and Medic onboard. The crew of REACH 18, out of Willits, were extremely gracious, and offered a five minute patient loading training to Firefighters on scene. This is a rare and valuable opportunity, and our Community appreciates it. REACH 18 departed towards Lakeport to standby as the community was facing evacuation from wildfire.

  We also appreciate Rio Dell Fire for sending us some fine folks to cover Mattole Station for CalFire. The Rio Dell Crew assisted Honeydew Fire as judges for the famed Mattole Wildland Firefighters’ Challenge on Saturday, ( Whale Gulch taking the trophy for 2018!) then, of course were here for us Sunday with this medical aid. We appreciate the sacrifice of these men and women, spending time away from their families, and community. Honeydew Fire also appreciates a brave patient, who we think would make a great firefighter or helicopter pilot sometime in the future.



  • Nice report! Thanks! So many wonderful and brave people we have in our community!

  • Lindsay merryman

    I am a full time resident of the Mattole Valley. I already know that the members of the Honeydew and Petrolia VFD’s are some of the finest people in my community—to that, I now add Rio Dell. THANK YOU! Thanks for having the time and the training to help people. Thanks for having the equipment to help people. Thanks for maintaining it. Thanks for being people who help people.

  • While i really appreciate all the readiness to help someone in danger, and i don’t begrudge anyone life-saving services… i just wonder: shouldn’t there be a simpler, easier, faster, cheaper solution to a bee sting?
    Like some benadryl. Or some stronger anti-histamine or antivenom for the local First Responders to have on hand?
    I better make a note to make sure our Grange First Aid Kit has something of the sort in it.

    • Ignorance ain't always bliss

      First responders are not legally allowed to administer epineferin pens. they have a needle. Benedryl was available, as was another person’s epi pen. It would not be technically legal to use another’s perscription, but would have been used if the patient deteriorated. Benedryl and epineferin wear off. often in less time than it takes to leave the Mattole valley. A child with a closing air way? get them outa here! There really was no faster way, no easier way, and with air ambulance insurance that would be the cheapest way. Why fight it? use what is available! The Grange first aid kit will never come close to whats available in the outside world! ( epi pens’ cost went up to over $400 when they were mandated in class rooms, and they have an expiration date.) And take a first responder class. basic training would explain more of the decisions made.

    • Laura I personally gave the father Benadryl, not knowing the severity of the situation. I gave him a handful, but it did not work, I was on my way home from Away when he approached me. It wasn’t until I got home I got the text of a medical of a bee sting at Away.

      • Thank you, Teresa! It’s good to try what might work, and when it doesn’t, thank goodness for the backup.
        Did you have to go back to AWay?

  • An Epinephrine injector “pen” should be added to the first aid /first responder kits for cases of Anaphylactic shock, such as this seems to have been!!!

    • Epinephrine is not within the scope of a fire responders abilities to legally administer unfortunately. The patient or their friend/family can have and administer the injection. First responders are limited in what they can provide patients to O2, glucose, CPR, and splinting/bandaging/packaging of patients and injuries. They can’t even check a diabetics blood to verify sugar count to provide proper remedy. Everything has to wait for the paramedics.

      This is something that would have to be addressed at the highest level to change the entire emergency service field. :/

    • Emergency Medical Responders don’t carry Epi Pens because they can’t prescribe medicine. If the patient has a pen, (meaning a doctor already prescribed the drug) we can help them administer the shot.
      Epi Pens only work (last) for 15-20 minutes before it needs to be readminister. Benadryl is a great idea to close the time gap.

  • A lot of folks who work in the woods carry a product called a sting stick. They work great for disinfecting yellow jacket stings, so they don’t itch as much while they heal.

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