The Superior Volunteer Fire Department has been involved with five high angle rescue accidents in 2018. Including the December 19 pileup on Interstate 90 which included a trucker driver who jumped over an overpass to avoid being hit by a semi-truck. As well as the rescue of Frenchtown Firefighter, Kyle Rauch, who had responded to that incident and slipped on the icy bridge deck and plunged 40 feet down an embankment. Rauch survived the fall thanks to the quick efforts of emergency responders. The truck driver involved with the incident, as well as the other three victims of high angle rescues last year, did not survive.
A few weeks ago members of the Superior Fire Department did some high-angle rescue training. “We need it,” said the department’s fire chief, Steve Temple. “It seems our department often arrives first on the scene of an accident. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for the search and rescue team to arrive and help with these types of incidents.”
The Mineral County Search and Rescue team is trained in all type of incidents including high-angle rescue. This type of rescue is difficult and involves technical rope techniques to bring an injured person up on terrain at slope of 60 degrees or greater. The victim is hoisted from one level to another using ropes, pulleys, harnesses, and a rescue litter basket.
In addition to lifting the victim to safety quickly, first responders must also identify if they are conscious or responsive; whether there is any spinal cord injury; and if the patient is stable for extraction.
In addition to their training last month, the department will do some exercises with the Missoula Rural Fire Department and the Frenchtown Rural Fire Department later this spring. That includes wildfire training April 22 and 24.