Tuesday July 12, 2005
By Nancy J. Bringhurst
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Emergency transportation has come a long way since 1948, when Herbert Vowell found his wife, Betty, unconscious on the kitchen floor. Their home on Steele Swamp Ranch in Modoc County, California, was seventy miles from the nearest doctor and at the time was isolated by a devastating snowstorm. Herbert called Rita, the Alturus telephone operator, fifty-three miles away for help.
Rita called Search and Rescue in Klamath County, Oregon. A plane was outfitted with skis to fly Dr. Jack Martin to the ranch. After several take off attempts from the snowy field, the pilot asked Dr. Martin to push the plane until it gathered enough speed to get up, then jump back in. The stench of burning fuel stung the doctor's nose, ice crystals pelted his face, but the plan worked.
After landing on an improvised runway lined with gunny sacks, Dr. Martin found a surgeon's help was needed, so the pilot bravely took off again to fly in a second doctor. Thanks to the two doctors, and to Bud's flying, Betty survived. She was fortunate; pilot Bud Arnold had never taken off or landed in the snow before.
Today, of course, a helicopter could deliver Betty from there to the hospital in thirty minutes.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Nancy J. Bringhurst, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
Steber, Rick. Buckaroo Heart, Bonanza Publihing, 2002.