"Safety Soapbox" Archive - November 2000
Rescuer and Scene Safety
In the last issue I mentioned an accident on Mt Washington (Oregon).
I later learned a bit more about this, including the rescue.
The climbers were first discovered by people from a nearby youth camp
on Big Lake. Numerous people came up from the camp onto steep scree
and talus slopes. While their intentions were good they were not prepared
to mount a rescue operation, created an atmosphere of confusion and
haste, and put themselves at some risk. In fact, there was a broken
wrist or ankle resulting from a fall by one of these people on the rocky
The most important thing in any emergency situation is not to compound
it by involving any additional people. Stop, make a plan, get organized.
This is certainly not as easy as it sounds when you are anxious to help
somebody, but it pays off in the end.
In this case a climber headed for the same route which the accident occurred
on came upon the scene. He happened to be a very active member of Eugene
Mountain Rescue which was fortunate for the injured climbers. Another
piece of good fortune was that Deschutes Mountain Rescue was practicing
somewhere nearby. Since an air evacuation was clearly necessary and the
first rescuer on the scene had things under control the main task of Deschutes
Mountain Rescue became handling the disarray of the camp responders and
getting them safely out of the area. So even in an organized rescue a major
function can be securing the scene and preventing well intentioned people
from getting injured themselves.
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