Training prepares fire department for Case Mountain rescue
By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Jul. 28, 2011
On Sunday, July 24, Manchester Fire Rescue EMS responded to an emergency call at Case Mountain at approximately 8:30 p.m. A mother and daughter were walking across the waterfall, when the mother slipped, falling nearly 15 feet down the falls and becoming wedged in the rocks at the bottom. The daughter called 9-1-1 and directed the emergency personnel to her mother’s location.
Despite the nighttime conditions and limited access for the equipment, fire department personnel were able to secure ropes lines at the top of the falls and lower themselves down to the injured woman, who remained conscious and had non-life-threatening injuries. Using a stokes basket to safely contain the woman and the extended ladder from the aerial truck as the lifting point above the falls, the woman was lifted up 60 feet, where she was safety transferred to the ambulance and sent to the hospital.
Fifteen members of the department responded to the call, including one shift commander. Four fire trucks and a four-wheel drive brush truck were also called out. According to the media release issued by Assistant Chief David Billings, “This complicated rescue demonstrates the skill and ingenuity of Fire Department personnel.”
Last year, through a competitive application process, Manchester Fire Rescue EMS was awarded a federal grant to conduct rescue technician training and certification. The grant funds provided for department-wide personnel training, which was a combination of classroom work and hands-on experience. The department was also able to invest part of the grant funds in specialized rescue hardware.
Recognizing that such skills are needed a dozen times a year, the department sought out the grant funds to properly prepare the department. As described by Billings, a firefighter is more likely to be injured in a low-frequency but high risk call than the typical high-frequency call. “Because of these kinds of things, we wanted to be prepared,” he said. The training also dealt with “low-angle” incidents, such as off an embankment, in addition to steep rescues.
The recent Case Mountain call was a good opportunity to put all those skills together, said Billings. “We were very pleased with the whole operation,” he said. “The crew that was there that night was pleased with their ability to do the job well.” Billings credited the recent training and equipment purchases for the department’s preparedness and ability to handle the call smoothly.
The department last responded to a call on Case Mountain in May to help an injured hiker. “We still find people who start off with the best intentions,” said Billings, “but take a wrong turn and it turns into a much longer hike.”
Manchester Fire Rescue EMS encourages hikers and mountain-bikers to use the buddy system and avoid hiking or riding alone. In addition, it is recommended to always tell a family member or friend where one will be going, or leave a note in the vehicle in the parking area with the hiking or biking route and estimated travel times. Outdoor enthusiasts are reminded to carry plenty of water, some protein bars, maps and a fully-charged cell phone.