Trapped Paramedic Survives 4 Days On Dirt

A Canadian paramedic trapped under his all-terrain vehicle ate rotten meat and fended off snarling animals to survive for 96 hours in Alberta bush country before he was discovered by a hiker.

Ken Hildebrand of Fort McMurray was collecting animal traps about 80 miles southwest of Calgary, on Jan. 8 when his vehicle hit a rock and rolled over, trapping him underneath.

Hildebrand, who has a weak leg due to polio, was face down on the snowy ground with the vehicle pinning his strong leg.

"It's amazing that he's alive. I can't believe it," said Troy Linderman, director of Crowsnest Pass emergency medical services said. "Ken is as tough as nails."

Hildebrand kept himself alive, if sick, by eating the rotting meat of the animals he had collected and using a beaver carcass to keep himself warm. He used another beaver as a windbreak and part of its skin as a makeshift pillow.

He blew a whistle to keep way nearby coyotes that were growling and fighting each other just feet away.

"It was time to get ready for survival mode," Hildebrand said.

With no water or food with him, no snow close by and nothing but dirt around him, he quickly became dehydrated. He pulled some surveyor's tape through his teeth to get a little bit of the dew that dropped onto it.

"I ate a lot of dirt to get a little moisture," he said.

By the second night he was so hungry he started to pick at the beaver bones an hour after the sun went down.

"I tried to eat pieces of that, but it made me sick and I threw up," Hildebrand said.

Hildebrand made several attempts to get out from under the quad, including using an axe to pry it off, but he didn't have enough leverage to move it off his leg.

He was discovered after four days by a hiker, and taken to a nearby hospital. He has since undergone several operations to treat frostbite and leg injuries.

Despite hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration and leg injuries, Hildebrand's only concern after being rescued was not being able to make his next paramedic shift, Linderman said.

Hildebrand's injuries were not described as life-threatening, but there is a chance his right foot might have to be amputated.

Hildebrand, who teaches first aid and heavy equipment at Keyano College in Fort McMurray, said he has property in the Crowsnest Pass area and was there seeing if he could help ranchers with the problem of wolves preying on cattle.