Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MRA Technical Rock Rescue Test and Bonanza

By Adam Garica

On March 7 BAMRU members woke up in beautiful Joshua Tree National Park to participate in this year's Technical Rock reaccreditation. Hosted by Sierra Madre Search and Rescue, the location, weather, and problems couldn't have been better.

A morning briefing let everyone get the last bit of drowsiness out of their system, and before BAMRU knew it we were on our way to the first problem. Our subject was located on the top of one side of a ravine, and while in otherwise good health, a lower leg injury required their evacuation to the ravine floor and out to the trailhead. An advance team quickly made their way to the subject to assess medical condition, and to come up with a rigging plan while the remaining team members unloaded the required gear.



The decision was made to rig a guiding line, which would allow BAMRU to lower the subject and litter attendant to the ravine floor while keeping them suspended above the rock for an easier descent. A rope was strung across the ravine, many anchors were built and double-checked for strength and safety, and after a couple hours the system was moving. The subject and attendant were safely lowered and the litter was then carried out by waiting BAMRU members. From the time we opened our problem envelope to the moment our two proctors called the end of the scenario took four hours, almost to the second.



The team took a quick moment to eat, repack gear, and get ready for the second (and final) problem, and then we were off! The second problem consisted of a stranded climber who had dislodged a rock while rappelling and injured their ankle. When we arrived at the bottom of the cliff we discovered a second party who had been struck by the falling boulder. Priority was given to the injured party on the ground due to the nature of their injuries and their medical condition, and after quickly packaging the subject they were carried to the road by hand, while three BAMRU members made their way to the cliff above the stranded climber to execute a pick-off. One BAMRU member was lowered to the climber, where they tied the climber into their rescue system, and then lowered to the ground without incident.

BAMRU received high marks from our evaluators and celebrated our performance with an excellent dinner provided by Sierra Madre SAR and then conversation and relaxation late into the evening. The next morning some members stayed behind to climb, while most piled into vehicles and began the long drive back to the Bay Area.