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Calling 911 in JeffCo
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By Gregger Man
Sep 20, 2009
gg

I left for Yosemite immediately after the accident at Lover's Leap on the 7th (thread here)

I wanted to recount a surprising thing that happened when I called 911. When Matt fell at the top of the first pitch, my cell phone was out of my backpack within 20 seconds and I had a dispatcher on the phone within a minute. I tried to be as concise as possible. The dispatcher said something to the effect of 'what's your emergency?'.

-Rock climbing accident at Lover's Leap rock formation on 285. We're going to need an ambulance. The climber has a compound fracture. Please call Alpine Rescue.

She proceded to tell me (a little indignantly) that she couldn't just call whomever I wanted, and that I would need to cooperate with her so that she could help me.

-Fine. I understand that it's the sheriff's call, but I know some of the guys on the Alpine team and I would appreciate it if you would call them.

She let me know that she didn't care who I was, I wasn't the one calling the shots. She was apparently pissed that I was requesting someone other than the fire department.

I don't know if she was poorly trained, or if she was just befuddled by what she saw as a short-circuit to the standard protocol, but she was basically giving me a dressing-down during the initial 2 minutes of an emergency call. I think it was extremely inappropriate and unprofessional. I handed off the phone to my belayer within another minute so I could lead up to Matt, but the interaction shocked me.

I asked for Alpine Rescue because I've paid attention to the charge-for-rescue issue in Jefferson County over the past few years. It is apparently still incumbent on the injured climber to request a volunteer rescue team over the services of the (arguably far less qualified in technical climbing terrain) fire department. Legally, you can refuse treatment from anyone. If you refuse treatment by the fire department on the 911 call and they show up anyway and try to charge you for the service, at least there is a permanent public record of your refusal.

Something to think about.


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By Tim Kline
From Littleton, co
Sep 20, 2009
Classic climb called Gossamer in the monster area of Rushmore

So odd that this comes up... we were at Lovers Leap today and found a man's body at the base. We called into 911 and they were such a pain in the ass to get somebody up there. Unfortunately an unknown free climber died probably yesterday up there. We found his body and it took over an hour and half to get anybody near the body other than my partner and I. Imagine if the man were alive or barely alive.

By the way there was a fatality at Lovers Leap today, my condolences to the mans family and I really want to thank the Park Ranger (Mike) and the rest of the Alpine team that came up to help retrieve this mans body. I don't know who he was, I can only speculate that he was free soloing and fell. But my climbing partner and I found him about 11:30 today.

Gregger Man wrote:
I left for Yosemite immediately after the accident at Lover's Leap on the 7th (thread here) I wanted to recount a surprising thing that happened when I called 911. When Matt fell at the top of the first pitch, my cell phone was out of my backpack within 20 seconds and I had a dispatcher on the phone within a minute. I tried to be as concise as possible. The dispatcher said something to the effect of 'what's your emergency?'. -Rock climbing accident at Lover's Leap rock formation on 285. We're going to need an ambulance. The climber has a compound fracture. Please call Alpine Rescue. She proceded to tell me (a little indignantly) that she couldn't just call whomever I wanted, and that I would need to cooperate with her so that she could help me. -Fine. I understand that it's the sheriff's call, but I know some of the guys on the Alpine team and I would appreciate it if you would call them. She let me know that she didn't care who I was, I wasn't the one calling the shots. She was apparently pissed that I was requesting someone other than the fire department. I don't know if she was poorly trained, or if she was just befuddled by what she saw as a short-circuit to the standard protocol, but she was basically giving me a dressing-down during the initial 2 minutes of an emergency call. I think it was extremely inappropriate and unprofessional. I handed off the phone to my belayer within another minute so I could lead up to Matt, but the interaction shocked me. I asked for Alpine Rescue because I've paid attention to the charge-for-rescue issue in Jefferson County over the past few years. It is apparently still incumbent on the injured climber to request a volunteer rescue team over the services of the (arguably far less qualified in technical climbing terrain) fire department. Legally, you can refuse treatment from anyone. If you refuse treatment by the fire department on the 911 call and they show up anyway and try to charge you for the service, at least there is a permanent public record of your refusal. Something to think about.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Sep 20, 2009
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

Thanks for the report about the 911 etiquette. It's too bad the operator was antagonistic. It almost seems worth it to call Alpine Rescue as well if you can't get cooperation.


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Sep 20, 2009
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

Gregger Man wrote:
It is apparently still incumbent on the injured climber to request a volunteer rescue team over the services of the (arguably far less qualified in technical climbing terrain) fire department. Legally, you can refuse treatment from anyone. If you refuse treatment by the fire department on the 911 call and they show up anyway and try to charge you for the service, at least there is a permanent public record of your refusal.



When you call 911 for help you do not get to choose who comes to your assistance. When you get hurt in someones juridiction you get the service(s)available there. Whether you like it/them or not, whether they give poor service or not that's the way it works. If you don't like it than don't spend time in that area.

If it was standard protocol to dispatch whomever someone request's everytime there is an emergency can you imagine what would happen? Do you know how many people cry wolf? Resources would be committed to all kinds of BS....and people with serious emergencies might not get the help they need, when they need it.
The dispatcher is taught to be in control and stay in control...you need to relise that you are not in control. Answer their questions, give them the info they need. That is the fastest way to get the assistance you need. Sometimes that assistance isn't going to come fast enough, but it's the best system to assist people over all.

Also the INJURED CLIMBER/PATIENT can, under certain circumstance's, refuse MEDICAL TREATMENT. You as their friend, partner, whatever cannot refuse it for them.
Refusal of a rescue operation is an entirely different matter, once a Fire department, rescue team, whatever has been called they have a legal duty to act. You can not refuse their aid at that point. They have legally assumed control of the scene.
However if you don't want the available help than you need to either self rescue or call your friends personally.
If you want to try and cover yourself for latter expense's by stating that you want a volunteer rescue team go ahead...it might help it might not.
I'd think if your friend needed help the last thing to consider is how much money it's going to cost.
I'm personaly not a fan of the "pay for rescue" routine. However I'd rather see that then FD's and rescue teams just not be able to respond because they have no money. A tough problem from many angles.

josh


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Sep 20, 2009
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

Tim Kline wrote:
So odd that this comes up... we were at Lovers Leap today and found a man's body at the base. We called into 911 and they were such a pain in the ass to get somebody up there. Unfortunately an unknown free climber died probably yesterday up there. We found his body and it took over an hour and half to get anybody near the body other than my partner and I. Imagine if the man were alive or barely alive. By the way there was a fatality at Lovers Leap today, my condolences to the mans family and I really want to thank the Park Ranger (Mike) and the rest of the Alpine team that came up to help retrieve this mans body. I don't know who he was, I can only speculate that he was free soloing and fell. But my climbing partner and I found him about 11:30 today.



I'm very sorry that you had this experience, it must have been very unsettling.
Are you sure he was a climber?

josh


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By Gregger Man
Sep 21, 2009
gg

Josh-
I did let her know that I realized that the sheriff was in charge. I was giving her all the information she wanted right up front. I read off the driving directions printed from MPcom including the mile marker. I thought at the time that by asking for Alpine Rescue to be involved, they would work it out between themselves who would charge up the cliff, which is what happened. (I didn't try to actually refuse service, and you're correct that they have an obligation to come to the scene.)

I wanted Alpine Rescue there because I know they are competent and fast. The ironic thing is that in this case, despite the reaction of the dispatcher, Alpine Rescue got the call much earlier in the process than usual. --My request actually worked. They were lightning fast.

If there is an agreement between a volunteer rescue group and the sheriff's department, stating a preference for that volunteer group can serve as a reminder to the sheriff/dispatch to choose to use that resource. - The reprimand I got just seemed out of proportion.


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By Hank Caylor
Administrator
From Golden, CO
Sep 21, 2009
Lone goat..

Sorry about the bad reception from 911 in Jeffco. I do however understand the personal wish for the Alpine Rescue Team. They are just that bad ass.


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By Adam McFarren
From Boulder, Colorado
Sep 21, 2009

Gregger,

My partner and I actually arrived at the pullout below Lovers Leap that Sunday morning probably right after Matt's accident. As soon as we opened the car doors we heard his screams, picked him out on the cliff and called 911 as well. I had a better interaction with the dispatcher I got (who also told me towards the end of the call that another dispatcher was talking with your party). We stayed around while the police, fire and Alpine showed up to help where we could (which wasn't much more than pointing out where you were).

Hope Matt is healing well,
-adam


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By Buff Johnson
Sep 21, 2009
smiley face

This particular topic I can somewhat respond to, but in a limited manner since there is discussion of both recent missions we had there.

One point I saw in this topic that needs a small clarification: there is no duty to perform SAR in this country. Yes, you still can refuse aid if you do not have diminished mental capacity. Nobody has the right to assault you; though the sheriff can detain you if they feel you would be a public safety concern.

Some other points: the county sheriff has the responsibility under state law to use resources at their disposal, through which the CSRB & MRA work to provide mtn rescue & other SAR assistance. In this state, this has been point of contention as the sheriff needs also fire district/fire response for ALS services for roadway rescue and extrication which mtn rescue teams are ill-suited. Thus currently in this county, mtn rescue calls will go to the sheriff & fire district for which fire will determine what they need as roadway is far greater in frequency than backcountry & mountain rescue incidents.

Greg was correct in assessing the type of incident to dispatch and Alpine has the memorandum to effect SAR services/Mtn rescue for this county and the appropriate FEMA classification to do so. So it should serve that logically an injured party should be able to call for the appropriate response. Today's climbers, with preliminary info available over the internet, can assist in describing what is going on; but that's about all you can do. You can't directly call Alpine (even if you tried to, nobody mans the rescue shack 24/7; it's all handled by dispatch & a pager system)

Incident command is not a democracy decision in determining what assets to use and how to use them; however likewise, incident command should be defined appropriately for this county which I feel could be better when it comes to mtn/backcountry rescue & operating within technical terrain.


One point goes toward the climber. Upon partaking this activity in itself, defines risk acceptance. Just because any of us have put ourselves in harms way does not define what others must do. The front range area is incredibly fortunate to have the mutual aid resources available that it does.


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Sep 21, 2009
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

Buff Johnson wrote:
One point I saw in this topic that needs a small clarification: there is no duty to perform SAR in this country. Yes, you still can refuse aid if you do not have diminished mental capacity.


That's not entirely true.
If you work for a non volunteer department and aid is called for in your jurisdiction you are required to act.
Once a call is made and especially once you have arrived on scene, you then have a duty to act, volunteer or not.

The only aid that can be refused is medical, and that is without dimished mental capacity(including drugs or alcohol of any amount) and assuming that you are over 18.

Giving out the information is the right thing to do, of course, but it needs to be done by not demanding things of the dispatcher.

josh


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By Gregger Man
Sep 21, 2009
gg

J. Thompson wrote:
[...] Giving out the information is the right thing to do, of course, but it needs to be done by not demanding things of the dispatcher. josh


I did say 'please' :0)


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By Buff Johnson
Sep 21, 2009
smiley face

Josh, here is a pretty good bit of info as to the effect of dollars & SAR in this country from the AAC:

“Climbing Rescues in America: Reality Does Not Support ‘High-Risk, High-Cost’ Perception”

specifically, the case law is as follows:

Of particular concern is the discretionary shield from lawsuits that may be lost if emergency responders charge for rescues. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991 ruled in the Johnson v. Department of Interior case that the representative of a climber who died in the Tetons could not sue the National Park Service for the way in which the rescue was performed. The court ruled, “No statute imposes a duty to rescue, nor are there regulations or formal Park Service policies which prescribe a specific course of conduct for search or rescue efforts. Instead, the decision if, when or how to initiate a search or rescue is left to the discretion of the SAR team.”30



With Colorado, there is no charge for SAR allowed; not to mention, the SAR teams do not charge, anyway.

There will be allowance for charge by Fire Protection District that will entail roadway only, but not backountry/mountain terrain SAR. Therefore, no duty does exist nor will exist for this state in regard to performing SAR. Those in Fire that have charged for SAR have done so outside of state statute (those that have charged without being a District are even farther removed), unless the SAR action encompassed criminal conduct which is assessed by the county sheriff or other law enforcement, like NPS Rangers, possible USFS LEOs, only.


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Sep 22, 2009
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

Buff Johnson wrote:
Therefore, no duty does exist nor will exist for this state in regard to performing SAR.


Buff,

That refers to a general duty to act....I'm stating that once a SAR as in this case...is intitated the responders have a duty to act.
So if you don't like the folks that show up you can't just say "no thanks" at that point. Meaning you can't just "refuse treatment" to a SAR like you can for medical.

josh


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By Clyde
Sep 22, 2009

An aside for those considering self rescue. When you administer first aid to somebody, you are covered against lawsuits by Good Samaritan laws (except for gross negligence like tourniquet on the neck). But you are NOT protected by those laws if something goes wrong during the rescue.

This came up recently in a California case where the victim was pulled from a burning car and was paralyzed. They won the case against the rescuer because it wasn't first aid. Whacked yes and it's still be appealed. But the GS laws are pretty much the same everywhere else, including Colorado.


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By Buff Johnson
Sep 22, 2009
smiley face

Josh, I think I see what you're getting at, which is more once care is provided at a certain level, it must be maintained throughout. This is different than what Greg is discussing and how he's relating a SAR incident. Which is clear to me how the state and county need to define it.

Certainly if what I'm discussing isn't coming across clearly as to the differences in how incident response is to be handled, as Greg has also indicated from his first hand account; then the responsible agency, in SAR that is the county sheriff for this state, needs a better delineation of areas of responsibility for the dispatch center.

A preamble definition from NASAR:

SAR units meet standards of which non-SAR emergency service units may not be aware. Such standards/qualifications includes ASTM F-32, agency accreditation in SAR operations by the Mountain Rescue Association, individual certification as SAR Technicians by the National Association for Search and Rescue, FEMA typing criteria for Mountain or Wilderness SAR Teams, or others that meet or exceed practices or standards that originated and continue to be developed outside the SAR discipline.


Further, as to a person's civil right in relation to a SAR call:

An injured party can certainly tell me after hiking up a 14er in a blizzard that they don't want my help. I can't force aid upon them. Yes, absolutely, if they are mentally competent; they can refuse aid. Maybe this is more to your point, I've acted within this duty & then they've refused; their civil right will supersede my duty.

Or, think of it this way, you didn't call for rescue, someone else did. You don't need help but it shows up anyway, do you have to accept it? No, you don't.


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By Buff Johnson
Sep 22, 2009
smiley face

Clyde wrote:
An aside for those considering self rescue. When you administer first aid to somebody, you are covered against lawsuits by Good Samaritan laws (except for gross negligence like tourniquet on the neck). But you are NOT protected by those laws if something goes wrong during the rescue.


This is too vague a statement, excepting the acts of gross negligence portion.

You are a climbing team that has accepted risk; if your partner goes down in technical terrain in backcountry wilderness, are you then at fault for not effecting proper notification by not having every latest gizmo that may or may not work to notify the authorities? no. You do the best you can not to make the situation any worse.

If you can safely effect a buddy rescue without the need for stabilization, do it. If you have a situation that needs more hands for stabilization, don't push it. In any case, where it's obvious your partner is in need of aid; SAR help should be there and at no charge, make yourselves safe & stable as you can and make the effort to notify about your situation; which could end up being having someone else call you in overdue, this happens the most. There is some reasonableness here with what we do as climbers and there is nothing wrong with educating in aid and buddy rescue to try and survive until SAR arrives.


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