Sunday June 5, 2011
Fifty (50) Foot Grounder
Climber On Skyline AKA PATC Wall
Fairly late on Sunday afternoon ORMS staff was getting ready to start some scenario training when a call came into the park that a 50 plus year old climber had taken a fifty foot fall on Skyline AKA PATC wall. Once again our planed for scenario training was replaced with a real response.
A fifty foot grounder is a very serious fall which can produce relatively instant death. I am told by a medical professional friend that the LD50(point where statistically 50% die) is a fall from 48 feet. Even if the patient does not die from the immediate impact injuries that can result from the fall will be substantial. There will be a high probability that the patient will be in for a serious fight for life. Rapid delivery to modern medical facilities with top notch emergency trauma and surgical teams may make the difference between the patient's living and dieing.
It was very fortunate for this patient that ORMS had highly trained responders high on the mountain and that the weather conditions were such that they were not stressing the patient. Most importantly the weather and time of day meant that a National Park helicopter could respond and rapidly evacuate the patient to a modern hospital.
Based on the comment provided by the patient's wife he has survived and is on the path to recovery.
Our hopes and prayers go out to the patient and all the follow-on medical personal that will be involved with the efforts to restore the patient to hopefully full health.
Events Leading To Fall
There were some initial reports but like many initial reports they probably have some inaccuracies. Suffice it to say that a very experienced climber somehow thought they were on a secure line that was not secure. When they went to put their weight on the line they fell fifty feet to the ground. Please see the 9th comment below supplied by one of the patient's friends.
REMINDER TO ALL OLD RAG VISITORS
While Old Rag is within an easy day trip's driving distance from a lot of metropolitan areas, it is not a city or suburban park! It is back country! Cell phone's generally only have service high on the Ridge. The fastest means of requesting emergency help may be to send a runner out to the trail head. Emergency Response teams will need to drive tens of minutes to trail heads and then spend 10s of minutes if not hours hiking themselves and equipment to the patient.
On this day the patient was lucky both that ORMS had trained responders high on the mountain and one of the park's helicopter Eagle (one or two?) was available to respond. Considering the location of the accident an incredibly fast extraction was accomplished and the patient was on their way to a hospital via helicopter not to many hours after his accident.
Visitors to Old Rag should understand and act with the knowledge that there is a very high probability that the stars, planets and moon will not be as aligned as they were for this patient. In the event of a serious accident or onset of a serious medical condition most patients will be facing two to three hours wait before the first help will reach them. Placement in an ambulance for transport to a hospital may take an additional five to ten hours. From time a non-ambulatory accident occurs on Old Rag until the patient arrives at the hospital it can take up to fifteen hours.
Sorry about the quality of the following videos.
WOW GREAT VIDEOS FROM
Dan Nichols one of the
Good Samaritans That Helped
The following two links have video footage supplied by Dan Nichols that is way better than mine.
See Dan's comments to this post. He his friends and others mounted initial good Samaritan efforts before ORMS resources arrived.
Dan, huge thanks to you and your friends for all the response help and for sharing these great videos.
This first video is just a shot of some helicopter lift equipment being delivered to the ground personnel. Not very exiting unless you are a responder looking at it for training purposes. Best to just watch the second video.
The second video shows the patient being lifted with tag lines being manned by ground personnel.
THANKS TO ALL THAT HELP
The next pictures show some of the end of incident activities. Even when it is felt that a successful helicopter extraction has a high probability the Incident Commanders will generally rally resources assuming the helicopter extraction will not succeed. With hiking times measured in hours they can not wait for one option to fail before initiating preparations for the contingencies. Thankfully the contingency plans did not need to be exercised. That said, right around the time the helicopter got the patient airborne, teams of park employees were arriving on Skyline Wall with hundreds and hundreds of pounds of equipment. Had the helicopter extraction failed the response team was prepared for a rapid and smooth transition to a long manual carryout.
The next three pictures show many of the tens of folks who were directly involved in the robust flexible response for this patient.
Some with formal training for emergency response and some without. Like Border Collies who just have an intense desire to help with the flock there are some who respond because it is in their genetics and they can not abide not to if they see someone in need.
Note: While not exactly the same the SheepDog reference is an improve off of a concept of Sheep Dogs first espoused by an old retired Vietnam era Colonel and used by William J. Bennett - in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997 and also used by author LTC (RET) Dave Grossman and also by video self help Internet author NutNFancy.
Both behind and before any response like this there are hundreds of man hours spent planning and preparing to make sure that the equipment and highly trained human resources will be available when needed.
- Park management has to obtain budgets for equipment, training, and response pay.
- Government and volunteer organizations prepare and train, prepare and train, then prepare and train some more.
- Other government and non-government organizations donate equipment.
- Not too be forgotten, families and friends selflessly give up anticipated plans when their loved ones participate in these often long and arduous responses.