June 12, 2017
OSWEGO COUNTY - The Oswego County Special Operations Rope Rescue Team put their training and skills to the test on Saturday, June 3. At approximately 5:46 p.m., the group was notified by the Orwell Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) of an incident in the Salmon River Falls gorge area located off Falls Road in the town of Orwell.
Oswego County Fire Coordinators Len Hartle, Mike Monnat, Erik Heath and Kurt Wehrmann responded to the scene as well as Scriba VFD Chief Shawn Simoneau, Pulaski's Ringgold VFD Captain Joe Bright, and members of the Altmar VFD. The team assisted Orwell VFD and Northern Oswego County Ambulance (NOCA) crews in recovering a patient with a broken leg in the lower falls area of the gorge.
NOCA personnel followed the trail to the area and stabilized the patient for removal. Chief Simoneau and Captain Bright assisted in locating the patient's position from above and worked with Monnat, Wehrmann and rope rescue personnel to plan the extraction. With the arrival of Heath, Hartle, and rope rescue trailers from the Scriba VFD and a private company, rescue efforts began.
Bright entered the gorge on a single rope line and confirmed the route for the rope rescue to occur, noting a 100-foot descent on steep rocky terrain with several obstacles and dangerous transitions. Hartle then descended into the gorge on a dual rope line system with a rescue stretcher. The patient was then located and secured into the stretcher for removal.
Chief Simoneau coordinated the efforts at the top of the gorge with the assistance of Orwell, Scriba, and Altmar VFD personnel. Bright and the patient were successfully raised to the gorge summit using a rope mechanical advantage system.
The patient was then moved by Altmar VFD's utility task vehicle (UTV) to the waiting NOCA ambulance which provided transport to University Hospital for treatment.
LifeNet of New York Air Medical Service also responded but was found not to be needed due to the level of injury.
The patient was out of the gorge at 7:50 p.m. and no responding emergency personnel were injured during this incident.
For more information about the Oswego County Special Operations Rope Rescue Team, contact the Oswego County Fire Coordinator's Office at 315-349-8800.
ROPE RESCUE TEAM AIDS FALLEN HIKER - Captain Joe Bright of the Ringgold Volunteer Fire Department in Pulaski assists with the rescue of a fallen hiker from the gorge area of the Salmon River Falls in Orwell on Saturday, June 3. Photo courtesy of Gigi Lynn Altier.
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