The Cook County Sheriff’s Office received a call around 2:45 p.m. that someone was having a medical emergency on their way to Eagle Mountain. Rescue workers arrived at the trailhead north of Devil Track Lake at around 3:30 a.m.
A group of about half a dozen went in first. The patient was on the trail for more than 2 miles. Beth Ambrosen was behind the first group, bringing food, water, and more light.
“I didn’t know any weather forecasts,” she said. “That was a surprise when we were out.”
They were notified that severe thunderstorms were entering the area, with the risk of high winds, hail, lightning and even tornadoes.
“The threat of this activity alone made us crouch down when it got too bad,” Ambrosen said.
She took shelter from golf ball-sized hail under a small tree.
“Number 1 in our training is to protect ourselves,” she said. “So it was a bit of a dilemma. You know you have to stop so as not to hurt yourself. But you have someone who will depend on you to take her to the ambulance.
In the end, the rescue team and patient were out of the forest at 7.30 p.m. An ambulance took the rescued person to St. Luke’s. None of the emergency services was injured, only wet.
“We were all soaked from head to toe,” Ambrosen said. “Can’t say enough to the guys who did the heavy lifting. It was about 2.5 miles of rocky terrain so they deserve my praise. They don’t get enough awards for what they do. ”
Cook County Search and Rescue is a volunteer. Donations can go to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and they’ll always appreciate a simple thank you, or an offer to buy a meal or otherwise help.
And Ambrosen hopes this situation was a reminder to others who like to go to the forest, especially during the transition period.
“I can’t say this enough for people who go into the woods: be prepared. Always have water, always food. Have equipment for these weather changes. You never know what will happen,” she said. “Be a Boy Scout. Prepare for the worst.”