Right place, right time: Tour guide helps crews rescue injured hiker

Tour guide helps rescue hiker near Dove Mountain

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s the first hiker rescue of the year for the Northwest Fire District and it probably won’t be the last.

Wednesday afternoon, nearly two dozen firefighters from three different agencies responded to a call regarding an injured woman on the Wild Burro trail in the Dove Mountain area.

Northwest Fire District Deputy Fire Chief Brian Keeley said the hiker was about a mile from the trailhead and was unable to make it out because of her injuries. Crews couldn’t drive to her, meaning they would have to hike about a mile each way carrying medical equipment with them.

That’s when John Polaski drove up.

Polaski owns Trail Dust Jeep Tours in Tucson. He was on his way to do some brush trimming on some nearby trails when he came across the fire trucks.

“And I am wondering ‘What the heck happened here?’” he said. “It must have been good karma. We were just in the right place at the right time, and I guess that just how things work sometimes.”

That’s because Polaski had access to the wash and space in his Jeep to get firefighters to the injured woman quickly.

“Often, at emergency scenes, people are attracted to it; they are naturally curious,” Keeley said. “And we need to keep people back for their own safety. But in this case, [Polaski] had the equipment and the skills necessary to be able to help out and we were happy to take advantage of it.”

“There were, I think, four firemen [in the back of the Jeep] and backpacks. It was quite a little load,” Polaski said.

Polaski drove first responders to the base of the mountain the hiker was on and waited for crews to rescue her.

“[She was] probably 100 yards up the side of the hill,” he said.

Polaski then drove the woman and the crew back to the trailhead.

“I could tell when she got into the Jeep that she was pretty sore,” he said.

Polaski did his best to give a quick, smooth ride to safety in a situation where every moment mattered.

“It just cuts down on a lot of time,” Keeley said. “A vehicle can move much quicker than we can on foot.”

Firefighters thanked Polaski for his help. But Polaski said he’s no hero.

“I’m just a normal guy that is willing to help anyone out that needs help,” he said.

According to Northwest Fire, the woman was transported to a nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries. She is expected to make a full recovery. Keeley said the hiker was well prepared; she was traveling with a group and had a cellphone with her.

Northwest Fire officials say injury calls are most common right now. They expect rescue calls to increase in the spring when the weather heats up.

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