Monday, November 16, 2009


Saturday and Sunday, November 14 &15, 2009
ORMS (Old Rag Mountain Steward)
weekend 2009

Great weather on both days but as you can see from this photo the colored leaves are almost all down. The Ridge Trail was very wet because of the tremendous amount of rain from the three days before.

While not overflow level crowds it was still very busy on the mountain this weekend. The next picture was taken during Saturday's preparations. Congratulations to Tony for earning his ORMS shirt.

A look back at the first false summit from near the cave.

A better shot of some hikers leaving the first false summit.

I have been seeing quite a few walking sticks lately.

A shot from the summit looking off towards Skyline Drive. No leaf color in this photo.

Huge apologies to ORMS members including myself for not getting any photos of the following activities from this weekend but I at least want to note them. All of the photos above were from Saturday when we had Jeremy, Ann, Valerie, Tony, Michael, Emily, and myself. We ended up only needing to deal with getting one non-ambulatory hiker off the fire road.
Valerie hosted a wonderful end of season overnight with tremendously good food and drink. Several of the guests brought gourmet dishes to supplement the fare. Imagine that, super Stewards by day gourmet cooks at night. Savory lasagna, soup, basil lemon cake and chocolate (sweet potato) fudge just to mention a few of the cornucopia of culinary delights. There were animated, competitive Scrabble and Phase 10 games played with lots of laughs and I would guess some itching for a rematch.
Sunday was the day of a MEGA Scenario. Chad, Ben, and assorted fruits played victims in the rocks while Andy observed as safety officer and evaluator. Scott, Tony, Valerie, Ann, Michael, Emily, Maria, and myself were severely tested with a loose simulated baby named Melonheart who was crawling around on a ledge 10 feet below a rock high point. A second patient was all broken up on the ledge ten feet below Melonheart and momma Chadlette was hysterically screaming for help before going unconscious from insulin shock.
Lots and lots of lessons learned. Considering our current level of training we did well but there is nothing like a challenging scenario to put a laser focus on things you still need to learn and skills you need to improve.
When dealing with emergency response there can always be a victim/patient that is beyond your ability or resources to save. You can not let perfect be the enemy of good and at the same time you need to guard against harmful unintended consequences.
Training and protocols attempt to carefully think out and provide directions that define what to do in advance of emergencies but it is impossible to even come close to defining everything responders will see. This is especially true when there are multiple injuries in an environment with very limited resources. The individual responders must often rely on their best judgements?
For example, suppose that while sitting on Old Rag Summit you hear about two incidents one being that hikers saw someone take a tumbling slide down the front face of the the first false summit and another that there is an unconscious hiker near the CCC stairs and there is no additional information. Furthermore assume you have only two Stewards and one radio. What is your response plan?
The air over Old Rag hosted a pair of falcons and a two-seater ultra-light.
The sweeps across all the mountain trails found hikers in need of help getting out to their cars but these incidents were fairly simply resolved. Then it was time for pizza.
It was a GREAT 2009 for ORMS. Here's to an even better 2010.
As much as I enjoy my solitary PATC Trail Patrols on Old Rag, I will miss my ORMS weekends. I am already looking forward to the ORMS Wilderness First Aid training at the end of March.

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