Monthly Archives: June 2016

Operation Fulford Fall – Day 2

1000 feet above the valley floor

The view at 1,000 feet above the valley floor is nothing short of breathtaking.

The second day scenario was a report of a missing hiker/climber whose emergency locator beacon was activated overnight.  The team had coordinates from the beacon and had a good idea of where to find the subject – about 1000 feet above the floor of the valley.  The incident commander decided to hike up with the team to have a better opportunity to manage the rescue.

Cave Entrance

A 50 foot high, 120 foot wide cave entrance greeted the team.

The team was able to approach the coordinates from below, only to be stopped by a 70 foot cliff with a gaping cave entrance, 50 feet tall by about 120 feet wide.  They guessed that the subject was up above and sent a small team up to look at what was at the top of the cliff.  The rescuers were able to climb up and located the subject, who was hypothermic from spending the night above 10,000 feet without proper equipment.

Cliff Problem

The cliff above the cave created a significant logistical problem.

Rope Bag

O-41, first one up the cliff, anchors a rope and throws down a rope bag to help other team members up.

Rigging the Cliff

O-35 and O-41 rig the cliff for access by the rest of the team.

Team members rigged the cliff to get more rescuers and equipment up.  It was decided that rather than taking the subject down a steep cliff full of uncooperative brush, they would use the cave skylight to lower the subject before evacuating him off the mountain.

Making a Path

Left: O-35 studies the rope snagged on brush some 30 feet below him – and 20 feet off the ground.
Right: O-35 and O-41 fix the rope as O-1 watches.

The entire team climbed the cliff and while some members treated and packaged the subject, others rigged the skylight for the rescue.  The subject was successfully lowered.  The entire team chose to rappel down through the skylight, rather than fight their way down the cliff face.

Rigged and Ready

Left: The cliff face is rigged for rescuers to come up.
Right: The skylight at the mouth of the cave is also rigged, to lower the subject.

Going Down

O-41 serves as the litter attendant, taking the subject down the skylight in a sked.

Six Dogs

Six dogs wait for their owners to return at the mouth of the cave. Someone had to guard all the gear left behind.

Operation Fulford Fall – Day 1

Operation Fulford Fall

Operation Fulford Fall

For our annual weekend wilderness training, the team gathered on the edge of Holy Cross Wilderness to run some training simulations.

The training scenario on the first day was locating a fisherman reported missing in the mountains.  The team set up an incident command post at the campground and deployed two hasty teams.  One team was sent to check the local main trails and the perimeter of the lake while the other team walked the cliff edge overlooking the creek below to see if anything would spark their interest.  Not finding anything significant, Hasty 1 hiked the stream of the creek going up while Hasty 2 went downstream, negotiating cliff edge in an attempt to locate the subject.

Holy Cross Wilderness

The terrain was absolutely beautiful and very much overgrown, making any search attempt difficult at best.

Team Briefing

Team gathers at the initial planning point to brief before deploying.

Hasty 2 made the find with the subject being creek side, about 100 feet down a ravine.  He was unconscious from a rock fall with bruising at the temple.  While the subject was being treated, all fielded members regrouped at the top of the cliff and rigged a litter for rescue.  A litter was lowered and the subject was brought up successfully.

Rescue from the Ravine

Left: O-38 and O-40 make a successful find of the unconscious, hypothermic subject.
Center: O-1 joins O-40 to treat and prepare the subject for transport.
Right: O-35 rappels down with a litter and gear for the subject.

Rescue Lines

Left: Litter is rigged for rescue. White mainline has the litter (orange rope) and patient safety (orange webbing) clipped into it. The green line will be connected to the litter separately as the belay line.
Center: O-38 checks the lines before the litter is pulled up.
Right: O-1 will serve as litter attendant to help get the subject past any obstacles.