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Normal rescue tactics?
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Dec 12, 2015
Trapped at work with nothing to do, trying to find something on TV (always a mistake): on MSNBC Caught on Camera was this segment where a woman in a summer running outfit who had climbed over the lip of "Eagle Rock in Los Angeles" (I don't have other details on what the location was). She was about 10 feet below the top, in a little alcove on a sloping ledge about 2 1/2 feet wide. It looked fairly windy in the video. The top appeared easily accessible on foot.

Again, this is not a climber, no harness, wearing running shoes. So they show up in a chopper, and lower a medic down to her. Swinging around in the wind like he was, and in the alcove like she was, he really had to scrabble hard and at close quarters to the victim to get onto the ledge. He was wearing a helmet cam so it was easy to see how close his hands were coming to her arms as he was trying to get established on the rock. Then he looped some kind of strap under her arms and up they went. All the while, her boyfriend stood on top of the cliff, with length of webbing dangling down to her position. Pretty odd scene!

So my question: is this a normal way to handle a rescue like this? Couldn't they have pretty easily knocked her off? Seems like rappelling in from above (seriously, only about 10') would've been the conservative move here. Is this maneuver less sketchy than it looks? Edit, here is the link, found by Bill Lawry, below, thanks Bill
Optimistic
From New Paltz
Joined Aug 29, 2007
328 points
Dec 12, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: 2016
mountainproject.com/v/eagle-ro... andrew thomas
From Eastsound, WA
Joined Jan 15, 2015
62 points
Dec 12, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: We shall continue with style
Link? BigB
From Red Rock, NV
Joined Feb 18, 2015
311 points
Dec 12, 2015
Bryan Manning wrote:
Link?


I Googled around trying to find one on my phone, would definitely have made for a better post, sorry! The footage was pretty terrifying I thought...
Optimistic
From New Paltz
Joined Aug 29, 2007
328 points
Dec 12, 2015

That could well be it. Chopper pilot was calling it 500 feet but 120 looked right to me.
Optimistic
From New Paltz
Joined Aug 29, 2007
328 points
Dec 12, 2015
m.youtube.com/watch?v=1BVOa0cs...

I have no SAR training.

Agreed. It does seem like rapping in from above to first secure her would have been ideal. Still, looks like maybe not a lot of daylight left to assemble folks on top?
Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Joined Apr 16, 2006
1,718 points
Dec 12, 2015
By the way - we were on scene for a helicopter pick off in the Grand Tetons not long ago. The situation was not precarious like this. Even so, it is simply amazing what those teams can do with just radio and visual communication. Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Joined Apr 16, 2006
1,718 points
Dec 12, 2015
Bill Lawry wrote:
m.youtube.com/watch?v=1BVOa0cs... I have no SAR training. Agreed. It does seem like rapping in from above to first secure her would have been ideal. Still, looks like maybe not a lot of daylight left to assemble folks on top?

Wow, you found it, nice work. The raw footage is even scarier!

Edit: I'm going to include your link in my original post, thanks for finding it.
Optimistic
From New Paltz
Joined Aug 29, 2007
328 points
Dec 12, 2015
I am also really curious about how she was secured. Seemed to go on quickly. Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Joined Apr 16, 2006
1,718 points
Dec 12, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Red Rock
Can't really see anything but assuming a waist harness. Remember the legs on a harness aren't really 100% necessary.

Hard to say from video but it didn't really look like anything you could rappel off of, rock looked really chossy.
ViperScale
Joined Dec 22, 2013
201 points
Dec 12, 2015
ViperScale wrote:
Can't really see anything but assuming a waist harness. Remember the legs on a harness aren't really 100% necessary. Hard to say from video but it didn't really look like anything you could rappel off of, rock looked really chossy.


Fair point about a rap anchor, I was thinking there'd be a block back in the bushes there somewhere, and those fire guys always seem to have miles of beefy static line. Obviously I'm being about as armchair quarterback as one can possibly be, it just seems like it would've taken an infinitesimal slip on his part to knock her into void, particularly when he was spinning at what looks like about 100 rpm!
Optimistic
From New Paltz
Joined Aug 29, 2007
328 points
Dec 12, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Red Rock
Probably what the webbing she was holding on to was for to try to prevent that and once he got the harness on her she let go of it.

You can only see so much from that video.

Bigger question is how did she get down there in the first place without falling off the cliff?
ViperScale
Joined Dec 22, 2013
201 points
Dec 12, 2015
Here is the story behind how she got there:

local.nixle.com/alert/4734644/

... includes some discussion from the rescue teams point of view.

Edit: The article refers to a safety harness around her waist. And during the hoist back up, it looks like she was holding on about as tight as possible.
Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Joined Apr 16, 2006
1,718 points
Dec 13, 2015
It's all subjective in a rescue situation, but personally I would've inserted a team by landing the helicopter above and set up a rappel. Typically our pilots wanted to set at least 1 skid on solid ground and unload a team rather than hang a rescuer off the hook. But that's just the protocols from the 1 agency I was trained for helicopter ops with.
Hoisting a victim into the helicopter is by far the most dangerous way, (other than a litter hoist) but given the time constraint of being 1 hr before dark, it may have been safer/quicker than try to insert a team on top.
Really all depends on what resources were available, and the time frame to arrive on scene. I could armchair quarterback all day long, but I don't have the resources to say whether or not a hoist extraction was the "right" call in this situation. Ultimately the mission was successful and the victim was safely extricated from danger.
With regards to the device she was hoisted on, it's called a hoisting sling. It is wrapped behind the back and connects at the front into the hook or a locking 'biner. it basically holds you up by the upper torso similar to a chest harness.
-MTC
NASAR SARTECH II
Helicopter rescue trained through NYSDEC
MTCowan
Joined Dec 7, 2015
3 points
Dec 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: climbing on an old dam
mountainproject.com/v/mormon-r...

It looked like the mormon rocks off the 15 freeway
Andrew Rivera
Joined Sep 3, 2011
33 points
Dec 13, 2015
Watched the video, so I was able to update my original post to be more accurate, and hopefully I answered a few questions. MTCowan
Joined Dec 7, 2015
3 points
Dec 13, 2015
MTCowan wrote:
It's all subjective in a rescue situation, but personally I would've inserted a team by landing the helicopter above and set up a rappel.


Thanks for your comments MT. Trivia question (because I do understand, I wasn't there, who knows what I would've decided?) : people pointed out that solid anchors might have been hard to find in that terrain. If the helicopter had landed, would it have been heavy enough to use as an anchor for a rescue?
Optimistic
From New Paltz
Joined Aug 29, 2007
328 points
Dec 13, 2015
Optimistic wrote:
Trivia question (because I do understand, I wasn't there, who knows what I would've decided?) : people pointed out that solid anchors might have been hard to find in that terrain. If the helicopter had landed, would it have been heavy enough to use as an anchor for a rescue?


Rather, 10 or 20 people tied together sitting back in a depression would make a good anchor. Better pee first as they might be there a while. ;-)

Edit: Realistically, it'd take time to hike enough people with harnesses out to the area before dark.
Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Joined Apr 16, 2006
1,718 points
Dec 13, 2015
I've never used a helicopter on the ground as an anchor point, but we do use even relatively small firetrucks as anchors frequently so I could see that working. Also bear with me as my experience in helicopter rescue was limited to a season in the Adirondacks as a seasonal employee with NYSDEC Forest Ranger Division. I have a decent amount of training in it, but my experience doesn't cover years of helicopter rescue. I just have to wonder how quickly a ground based team could've arrived versus that aircraft. Realistically you're looking at 30-45 mins from time of dispatch for most birds to arrive on scene.
The process usually goes:
Ground based units are dispatched
First unit arrives on scene (usually law enforcement), and determines what resources are required
Request air support
10 Mins to 15 min to to pré flight inspection and ensure the aircraft is set up for the scenario
10-45 min flight to scene
1-5 min fly around to formulate a safe approach and evaluate any hazards to the aircraft
So you're looking at a decent amount of time before that resource actually arrives. Depending on road access you could get a lot of equipment up there in that time. Looked like the road was well under a quarter mile from the incident, so you don't even have to factor in hiking in ground resources.
But ultimately, the right call is the one that gets everyone home safely, which is what happened.
MTCowan
Joined Dec 7, 2015
3 points
Dec 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Rrrrr
This post violated Rule #1. It has been removed by Mountain Project.
Buff Johnson
Joined Dec 19, 2005
1,506 points
Dec 14, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Batman Pinnacle
First thought was "what a waste of a helicopter resource."

Second thought was, actually it looks late in the day at a location it would take quite a while to hike to, with a victim in a fairly precarious perch wearing inadequate attire for even a brief period after dark... lots of reasons to employ a helicopter in some capacity.
Scott O
From California
Joined Mar 30, 2010
76 points
Dec 14, 2015
Scott O wrote:
First thought was "what a waste of a helicopter resource." Second thought was, actually it looks late in the day at a location it would take quite a while to hike to, with a victim in a fairly precarious perch wearing inadequate attire for even a brief period after dark... lots of reasons to employ a helicopter in some capacity.


I do buy the use of a helicopter, it just seems like a rope would've been a much more controlled way to pick her off, and I would bet that even without additional personnel they probably had the gear and training to do that, or at least get her anchored to something solid and get her a blanket over her while a bigger team was getting assembled. I don't really agree that just because they were successful, that makes their approach a good idea. If she'd been marooned at a solid anchor, fine, but with that rotor wash especially the whole thing seemed right on the edge of out of control. Maybe the "Go-Pro effect" makes it seem wilder than it actually was?
Optimistic
From New Paltz
Joined Aug 29, 2007
328 points
Dec 14, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks
Andrew Rivera wrote:
mountainproject.com/v/mormon-r... It looked like the mormon rocks off the 15 freeway


Definitely not Mormon Rocks, but it's not the Eagle Rock posted up-thread either. I'm pretty sure it's not a developed climbing area.
kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Joined Aug 12, 2010
2,061 points
Dec 14, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Batman Pinnacle
Optimistic wrote:
I do buy the use of a helicopter, it just seems like a rope would've been a much more controlled way to pick her off, and I would bet that even without additional personnel they probably had the gear and training to do that, or at least get her anchored to something solid and get her a blanket over her while a bigger team was getting assembled. I don't really agree that just because they were successful, that makes their approach a good idea. If she'd been marooned at a solid anchor, fine, but with that rotor wash especially the whole thing seemed right on the edge of out of control. Maybe the "Go-Pro effect" makes it seem wilder than it actually was?


I'd rather be rescued that way, but it's hard to pass judgment without knowing the factors the rescuers were facing.
Scott O
From California
Joined Mar 30, 2010
76 points
Dec 14, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Pea...
The factors the rescuers were facing is that they had a bitchin' helicopter at their disposal, so they made sure it was used for the rescue.


Yeah, a person could easily have been belayed to downclimb to the girl, gotten a swami belt or webbing harness on her, and helped her climb out. But that makes the helicopter not get used.
Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
1,669 points
Dec 14, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Triple Direct on El Capitan
Pretty common rescue, probably did it more for training than necessity. Maybe there was a delay or issue getting someone to the top of the rock, many of those roads are inaccessible to vehicles. I work for Los Angeles City Fire and we do pick offs like that all the time, it's quick and easy and doesn't tie up resources. It takes a lot of time t get people on top , set up and either rig to raise or lower, pick offs are just way easier.

A waste of helicopter resources??? These guys live for this stuff and are on stand by 24/7 to do it. In LA County where this happened you have the LACSD which performed this rescue, LA County Fire and LA City Fire, all are highly trained and love doing what they do. This was an easy and good training exercise if nothing else.
Kevin Mokracek
From Burbank
Joined Apr 5, 2012
192 points


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