Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Emergency Plan, do you have one?

I was climbing with the Ottawa ACC section at Mont Cesaire at Val David this past Sunday. While we were packing up to leave Chico et Valse, a climber fell, pulling two pieces and decked about 20 feet from us. He had fallen about 60 feet onto a blocky ledge at the base of the climb. They were not part of our group. The climber was seriously injured but thankfully remained breathing and conscious through out his ordeal.

Accident notes:

1) Climber was not wearing a helmet.
2) Climb: La Premiere Valse 5.3. Although I believe the climber fell after getting off route; the climber traversed too high. I did not climb this particular route but I did climb La Valse 5.6 directly to the left while an ACC member climbed La Premiere Valse 5.3. I believe the gear on that route is not obvious and if you miss the right spot there may not be any good gear to be found.
3) Two pieces pulled. At least one was a smaller nut (similar to a #6 or #7 sized BD stopper). I'm not sure how much force was on the third piece down, if any.
4) The climber landed at the base of La Valse. Injuries from the impact were severe.
5) The elapse time from the first 911 call to the climber's extraction from the crag was about 1 to 1.5 hour. 6) Chico et Valse does have an access road which the park authorities used to drive the fire rescue team in on. The approach is about a 20 minute walk from the park office.

Do you have an emergency plan? Some stuff to think about:

1) The fewer people you are with the more tasks you will have to handle. This particular climber was lucky to have 10 people, in addition to his partner, on scene. It can take multiple people to help stabilize a seriously injured climber. I was very impressed on how members of the ACC took over and got the situation under control.

At the same time someone needs to call 911, someone else should be calling the park office if there is one and a runner should be sent to meet the rescue crew. If cell service is nil you definitely need a runner.

2) 911 will ask for an address to send paramedics and fire rescue to. The name of the crag/wall/area is not enough. Luckily an ACC member knew the address of the park office so I handed the phone to them.

3) As above, have the number of the parking/park office if there is one; they will be better at coordinating the rescue. This is something we did not have so I ran to the park office to report the accident. After showing them exactly in the guidebook where the accident happened they directed and met fire rescue at the closest access spot.

4) It takes a long time for the rescue to come even in areas with access roads.

Be safe out there.

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